Preserved Lemons & The Magic of Morocco
This post will give you an introduction to our magical honeymoon to Morocco: a kingdom of opulence, beauty, and mystique. I will also share a sous vide recipe for making homemade preserved lemons. Read on to learn more.
When I first booked our honeymoon escape to Marrakech, Morocco, I started to announce our decision to friends, coworkers, and family. Nestled among the ooh’s and aah’s of our decidedly exotic choice came questions. People questioned why we chose Morocco over, say, a European getaway or a relaxing week on a Hawaiian beach. I answered these questions with a blasé tone, explaining that it was the food that drew me there or the favorable exchange rate. Honestly these answers never quite explained why we had so solidly settled on the location. I couldn’t articulate what allured me about Morocco, only that I had to go. It was as if it had been calling me.
Shortly after arriving at our hotel, we set out for the square, Jaama el-Fna. We ran into a guide who offered us a tour through the market for 100 Moroccan dirhams ($10 US dollars). Four hours later, we said goodbye to our guide. We sat for a meal and tried to digest the experience.
Jaama el-Fna–the square and the souks
In the old Medina of Marrakech, life moves to a different rhythm than that of the West. The locals don’t walk, they glide and dance among the chaos of the old cobblestone streets together with mules, hurried taxis, clueless tourists, motor scooters darting in and out, and busy merchants hobbling to-and-fro. This is navigated and taken in along with a cacophony noises: of the percussion of constant traffic, hustlers yelling at tourists, and the hum of various foreign languages. With time, we started to mix into the chaos and pick up on the ancient rhythm through the jumble of the souks.
Jaama el-Fna (Arabic for “Place of Execution,” referring to a time when public executions were held in the courtyard) is a must for a visitor to Marrakech. Practice your bargaining skills. Find a rooftop cafe to observe and freely take photos (the locals don’t care to have their photos taken and many demand payment for it). Most of all, relax and let yourself slip into an entirely different mode of life.
The square and the souks of Jaama el-Fna are a perfect first day for a tourist in Marrakech. It’s here that you will begin to appreciate the delicate balance of this ancient medina, between the old and the modern. And it is here that you will first see the pride and hospitality of the Moroccan people.
Sous Vide Preserved Lemons
Preserved lemons are just as vital to Moroccan cuisine as Jaama el-Fna is to Marrakech. The problem with this for many in the US is availability and convenience. If you can’t find them in your market at home, you must resort to making them. The issue with this is that traditional preservation methods take a curing time of a little more than a month. Luckily, the sous vide can speed up this process to take just a little over an hour. While your sous vide preserved lemons will not have the depth of those cured traditionally, they will do for most recipes. We will use it in our upcoming recipes: a white fish tagine and a turkey couscous.
In this post, we introduce you to our Marrakech adventure as we were introduced to this unique city: through Jaama el-Fna. We also share a recipe for a Moroccan kitchen staple: preserved lemons. For more travel pictures, from my husband’s perspective, please check out Thirteenth Knight Photography.