Last Meal

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We’re on our way out of Morocco today, and we celebrated by having a fantastic last meal in Marrakech with a few of our closest PCV friends. The meal pictured is called rafissa, and it’s made with shredded fried dough topped with spiced chicken and lentils and doused in a delicious soupy sauce. It’s a difficult dish to prepare, and so is usually saved for special occasions, which makes it fitting for today :-). Morocco, we’ll miss you, and we’ll see you again in the future, inchallah.

-Matt and Cori

Our Kitchen

In an environment where at times it feels like I’m not really in charge of what’s going on in my work and in my social life, I’ve spent a lot of time in my kitchen where I can control what I’m cooking and I can get really good at making it. The kitchen has become a kind of sanctuary for me, and at times for Matt, as well as a place where we can recreate our favorite foods from home when we’re really craving them.

Lentil burgers with fries

Lentil burgers with fries

We do get the occasional surprise when a bug crawls out of the peas we’re shelling, or we bite into a date only to find the tell-tale signs of a worm in there – we’re always glad if we can still see the whole worm (I’ll also never forget my family’s faces when they tried dried figs for the first time on their visit here and I told them to be sure they opened them first to check for worms). But this is just something that goes along with eating nice, fresh foods all the time, which I hope to continue doing in the States.

You might remember my posts on different Moroccan foods – I had a grand vision to post a lot more Moroccan recipes, until I realized that what really made me happy in the kitchen was cooking food I missed from home. Because really, no matter how happy I am with my harira recipe, I can go get a version that’s 100 times better at the soup stand down the street.

Once I get home and start missing Moroccan food, I’ll have to rely on this excellent website for my instructions, but for now I’m really proud of what Matt and I have accomplished in the kitchen despite the fact that we haven’t learned a ton of local recipes. Making pizza from scratch is second nature for us now, along with chili and cornbread, tomato soup, and macaroni and cheese. We’ve also learned how to make chicken noodle soup with fresh noodles, fry chicken, and make amazing tacos courtesy of Matt’s fantastic homemade flour tortillas.

Apple pie, homemade tortillas, and cinnamon-sugar swirls.

Apple pie, homemade tortillas, and cinnamon-sugar swirls.

I’m hoping to be able to keep this tradition of cooking good food from fresh meat and veggies alive once we get back into working real jobs. I won’t even mind if we still find the occasional bug in our food, as long as that means it’s fresh. I’ll just be glad if we can avoid a repeat of the time we found a dead cockroach in our bag of flour – yuck!

– Cori

Fall in Azilal

We’ve been having some really nice fall days recently – the kind that are sunny and just a little chilly and remind me of football games in the ‘Shoe early in the season. But of course it’s a little different here, because these days happen in November instead of September, and we use them to pick olives instead of apples or pumpkins:

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Fresh olive oil vs. fresh pie is a tough call. But I guess either way it’s fun to do the picking!

– Cori

p.s. Happy Thanksgiving!

p.p.s. M*ch*g@n sucks.

Happy Holiday!

Today is 3id al-Adha, also called the Feast of the Sacrifice. It’s one of the biggest Islamic holidays and is widely celebrated in Morocco (you can read and see more about it from last year’s post if you’re interested). You might notice that last year we posted about it later in October – that’s because 3id al-Adha takes place on the 10th day of the last month in the Islamic calendar, which means on the Gregorian calendar it moves up every year.

We’ll be spending the day with our host family to share the festivities and family time that accompany the holiday. Despite the one big difference, the rest of the day feels surprisingly like Christmas or Thanksgiving – we’ll spend lots of time visiting family and friends today and in the coming days, we’ll eat lots of food, and we’ll enjoy the atmosphere of school and work being closed. And even though most of you aren’t celebrating today, Matt and I wanted to take the chance to wish you all a happy holiday anyway! As you cook your meals today just imagine us watching a sheep get butchered, skinned, and then helping to prepare its organs. 🙂

Mbrouk l-3id! !مبروك عواشر Happy holiday!

– Cori and Matt

Positivity… ?

Last week was Mid-Service Training for my group of PCVs. We all got together for a “training”, which was really mostly just talking about how we’re feeling right now. I honestly didn’t have high hopes for it, but I left feeling really… positive, which surprised me. That’s not to say that I never feel positive here – I do – but it’s just usually related to hanging out with friends, or to a specific trip we took. I guess it’s been awhile since I’ve felt generally positive about living, traveling, AND working in Morocco looking forward.

Our training was nice for a bunch of reasons. One, it was nice to have a couple medical appointments and hear that I’m healthy (no cavities! Yeah!). Two, it was great to get tested again for my language level and learn that I’ve improved three levels (I can’t even explain how validating and awesome this made me feel). Three, Rabat has some delicious restaurants, and I spent way too much money drinking with friends and eating Chinese, real pizza and real salad at a German restaurant, and a bacon cheeseburger with onion rings and a real Sam Adams beer at an American restaurant (I know this sounds like some crap you can get anywhere in America but seriously you can’t get it here and it was So. Good.). And four, it was seriously fantastic to hang out with my good friends from training who I basically never get to see, as well as with other friends I’ve been slowly getting to know over the year. I actually got to stay in Rabat for a whole week, since my medical appointments were a couple days after our training ended, and it was a great break for my mental health.

Exploring the ruins in Rabat with some friends

Exploring the ruins in Rabat with some friends

In addition to the training, I’ve also been feeling more positive lately after meeting a couple new Moroccan friends who are interested in helping me do projects here in Azilal. Since I haven’t pulled off any big projects to my satisfaction yet, I’m hoping with the help of my friends that I can do it this year. I didn’t see it coming, but right now I have a lot more hope for my final year than I had a couple months ago. We’re kind of in a transition period right now (more about that in a few weeks), and I know that once it passes a lot of the excitement will be gone and I probably won’t be feeling as positive or hopeful. But one thing I talked about with some of my friends at training was the importance of being hopeful, even when you know, inevitably, that things are going to go wrong somehow (this probably sounds kind of pessimistic, but really it’s just a fact). So I’m going to enjoy the positivity while it lasts, and hopefully I’ll actually come up with a project or two to show for it.

– Cori