In addition to being one of the most exotic cuisines in the world, Moroccan food is also a mix of various other influences, including Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Moorish. A typical Moroccan dish can be a simply prepared serving of a single food type, or a complex mixture of several different foods and spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, saffron and paprika. Spices have been imported into the country for centuries and are considered an essential part of just about any dish.
Food plays an important part in the lives of many Moroccans and it is common to serve huge feasts consisting of many courses, on holidays, weddings and other special occasions. Many Moroccan households even employ their own cook, such is the importance of food in everyday life and many dishes and ways to prepare them are handed down through generations. If you are ever lucky enough to be invited to eat with a Moroccan family you will be expected to eat with your hands, although you should not use your left hand.
Most people have heard of couscous, which is eaten all over Morocco and has been the country’s national dish since around the 13th century. Couscous is a fine semolina grain which is steamed and then served over a stew. Moroccans also love salads, and a basic Moroccan salad contains cucumber, green pepper and finely chopped tomatoes, although many can contain other ingredients, such as carrots, herbed potatoes, dates and spiced eggplant. Several different salad dishes are often served as a main course.
Seafood and meat also feature prominently in Moroccan food, especially lamb. Lamb is prepared in several different ways, including braised, boiled or skewered over hot coals; it is often also served with couscous. Seafood is especially popular along the Moroccan coast and shrimp, lobster, sea bream and sardines are all popular choices. Many Moroccan meals are accompanied by one or more of the breads, often served hot and dipped in amlou, a dip made from honey, almonds and argan oil. The national drink of Morocco is mint tea, although almond milk is also popular and Morocco produces some surprisingly good wines.