Mimouna’s Moroccan Roots & Harissa Chicken
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In the divisive politics of today, it’s easy to allocate all conflict to black or white conditions. This was unfortunately the attitude many–even ourselves–were conditioned with when we prepared ourselves for our Marrakesh honeymoon. We had even planned to stay hush about our religion so as to not stir up trouble for ourselves. When you watch the news on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you would think it would be dangerous to be Jewish in a country with a Muslim majority.
It turns out, as most things are, it isn’t quite as simple as all of that.
Morocco’s Jewish Affection
We were happy to find that the people of Marrakesh were very proud of their history, including their Jewish history. A few vendors selling in the square flaunted their elaborate Hanukkiahs with intricate Hebrew carving for purchase. Even some stopped my husband to inspect a tattoo of his that features Hebraic script only to tell us a story of how they had a Jewish friend or neighbor years ago ending with a fond: “what a great guy!”
This didn’t mean we were eager to announce our religious affiliation in a country so foreign to us. And, as seen by graffiti in the Mellah, anti-Judaism sentiment did exist.
Humans are rarely simple and–oftentimes–there is a lot more than what meets the eye.
Morocco once was home to a large population of Jewish people. Their remnants remain everywhere, not just in the Jewish quarters. Many estate sales in the square were full of antique Judaica.
Most of the Moroccan Jews have relocated to Israel or Canada, where they’ve spread their own unique flavor of Judaism. One Moroccan-Jewish custom which is gaining popularity even among Ashkenazim is the celebration of Mimouna. A three-day post-Passover tradition with disputed origin, many American Jews are adding significance by inviting Muslim community members over for a feast.
If you choose to celebrate Mimouna, we think this Morocco-Inspired Harissa Chicken is perfect!
Harissa Baked Chicken
Our harissa baked chicken would make a perfect main for your Mimouna feast. Pair it with a great French baguette to celebrate the return of chametz to your table. Whether you decide to keep it an intimate meal with your family or to welcome those of other faiths is up to you. No matter what, you’ll enjoy a symbolic meal that celebrates the richness of human connection.