Besides travel, food is my other love language. They are both my heart and soul. One can’t function without the other. I love to eat and because of my eclectic taste and curiosity for different cuisines, I travel. When I travel to a city or country, I’m most excited about trying the foods.
I remember when my older son and I planned a New York City trip a few years back, I based our whole itinerary on where to eat. Each day, I had a list of restaurants to go to for lunch and dinner. We realized later we didn’t have anything planned in between and had to search for things to do while we wait for the next meal. The same dilemma with our most recent trip to Madrid—what to do when we weren’t eating. But fortunately my son found the joy in siesta and I perfected my shopping skills. 😆
At press time, I drove around yesterday in search of the Popeyes chicken sandwich that’s been making a buzz everywhere, not to mention the long wait lines just for a chicken sandwich! I have never eaten at Popeyes (I don’t even like fast food) and yet I had to give in to this hype.
So if you haven’t noticed yet, I do have FOMO when it comes to food. 😂
We arrived in Marrakech by mid-day and I’ve made a reservation months prior at La Mamounia for a pool side lunch buffet. La Mamounia is one of the most luxurious resort hotels in Marrakech. It’s also a tourist destination (I even heard hoards of tourist buses would stop there just for photo ops). I didn’t want to go there just for that reason. I wanted to experience eating at one of their restaurants as well. I would’ve gone to the Moroccan restaurant but my son was leaving (back to the States) that afternoon and the restaurant was only open for dinner.
The buffet was not only sumptuous but also visually delicious. It had everything I could possibly want aaand…..something caught my eye: the spread included chicken tagine! Oh em gee! If you’ve been following my posts on Morocco, then you know I’ve been eating chicken tagine almost everyday (except in Casablanca).
Let’s talk about the desserts…
Unfortunately, I was intimidated to take photos of the buffet since no one was there taking pictures (where are those damn bloggers when you need them? Geez).
After lunch, my son and I went for a stroll so that we could burn all the calories we just ingested. Plus I need to look thinner for our photo shoots lol! La Mamounia has a beautiful garden and every corner in the property is picture perfect. I would’ve liked to stay longer and fully experience the resort but my son had to be at the airport by 4pm and I had a cooking class to attend.
Saíd dropped me off at La Maison Arabe, a quaint hotel in the medina. They informed me that we will be taking a shuttle van because the cooking class was not at the hotel but at their off site location. I was initially disappointed not knowing what to expect. But when we arrived there, I realized why the class was located away from the city and not in the crazy hustle and bustle of Marrakech.
La Maison Arabe has its own country club among olive groves, an oasis of calm just 15 minutes away from the city. It was the perfect backdrop for a cooking workshop—tranquil gardens with an outdoor fire pit oven. When we arrived, we were greeted by the instructor (who will be demonstrating the class alongside the dadas, traditional Moroccan women chefs). He described the ingredients and Moroccan spices for the foods that we will cook that afternoon.
After the lecture, we were invited to sit by the outdoor oven where a dada was busy making the breads and a young man holding a teapot for the Moroccan tea ceremony (in Moroccan tradition, a man is usually the one preparing the tea). The method of pouring the tea is usually done from a height of at least a foot (a sign of an experienced host is by being able to get the tea to the glass from that height or even much higher). The room for the cooking workshop had new state-of-the-art equipments. There was a large central kitchen surrounded by individual cooking stations where each had a small TV screen for the students to watch the cooking process closely, step by step.
We started with the dessert in the main kitchen, rolling doughs for an almond type of cookie. Then we each went to our station and prepared an eggplant dish for appetizer, chicken tagine (of course!) for the main entree, and a tomato salad. One of the dadas complemented my knife skills which made me very happy (I was able to peel a whole tomato continuously without breaking it and she took the peel and formed it into a flower).
They had a long table beautifully prepared for us where all of us (students) dined together. The reward for our labor was to eat and enjoy our own cooking. Then towards the end, they gave each of us a certificate for completing the class and with a surprise gift: a clay pot tagine!
This cooking class was the highlight of my Moroccan adventure thus far. There’s only one day left before I leave Morocco but I still had the next day to fulfill something in my bucket list!