Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ever Wonder What They Eat in Morocco?

To me, part of traveling and experiencing the culture of the country that you are visiting is eating the food. Food is so much apart of every country's culture and how they live from day to day. 
Plus, I love trying different types of food that I have never tried before. Even if it looks a little "iffy," I am still willing to try it just once so I can get the total culture experience. 
So if you have ever wondered what they eat in Morocco, you can get a good taste of it for yourself. 
Here are some pictures of our food adventures during our week long Moroccan adventure....

Pastilla
This little thing is way good. We had it several times. It is like a little filled pancake. It is filled with shredded curry chicken, ground almonds, brown sugar, and some nutmeg. The outside dough is like a filo dough that has been fried. It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory. 

Moroccan Salad
Pretty much every restaurant that we went to offered some type of Moroccan salad for their first course. 
This one was typical. It had little piles of chopped up veggies and rice. There was usually a little pile of salad with eggplant and spices, lots of green peppers and tomatoes, as well as rice. Quite tasty but simple.

Vegetable Tagine with Couscous
I love couscous and make it quite often at home. When I found out that it came from Morocco I was super excited to eat it there and get my fill! They serve it all the time, and after a few days of eating it I actually got really sick of it. But this dish was good. It was a vegetable dish that was slow cooked in a tagine pot with spices and then put over couscous. There were some cooked golden raisins on top too that added a good amount of sweetness. Vegetarian all the way.....just my style. 

Coke, Arabic Style
Nate loves Coke. We couldn't drink the water in Morocco because everyone said that it will make you sick. So we drank a lot of bottled water and lots of other juices and sodas. Nate's favorite of course was the pure sugar coke. This bottle was especially cool because it has "Coca-Cola" written in Arabic on the bottle! 

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
This was my favorite food item in Morocco. They have oranges growing everywhere there. In the main market area, they have all of these fresh squeezed orange juice stands. There are tons. They all sell the exact same thing and have the same prices so it is hard to know which one to walk up to and buy from. They are all trying to get you to come to theirs and they are fighting over you. They will get your attention from way far away and wave at you like they know you and then motion for you to come over to them and buy some. It is hilarious. They pressure you so much and act so disappointed when you go to the booth next to them. It is so good though. They squeeze it right there in front of you and it is so fresh. They serve it in glasses to everyone.....and I don't think they wash the glasses in between customers. They even reuse the straws too. You just can't think about that unless you want to be completely grossed out. :) Oh well.
 Click on "Read More" below to see some more crazy food pictures.....

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Morocco Souk Markets


Traveling is so fascinating to me. Nate and I have been so lucky this past year to have traveled to so many places throughout Europe. The best part about living in London was the fact that once you are there, traveling from country to country is SO CHEAP. You can find amazing deals if you are just on the look out. Sometimes they have plane flights for just $15.00 a person round trip! Amazing!

So we wanted to take one last trip, have one last big adventure, before we went home back to the U.S. We contemplated going to Greece? Didn't find that cheap of flights. Egypt? A little too dangerous for tourists to go right now. Portugal? Need something a little more exciting and less European-ish. Morocco?.......

Yes. 

We found super cheap flights for the perfect time of the month to their capital city, Marrakech. So we thought about it and booked our tickets.....and we were so excited. Who would have ever thought that we would be going to Africa? Nate kept on telling me that this was going to be unlike any other place that I have ever been and that I would be walking around with my mouth open the entire time.....and I was. I literally felt like I was walking around in the Disney movie, "Aladdin" for a week. 

They have these markets called Souks. The pictures below are of the different interesting things that we saw in the markets as we walked around. Nothing has prices on it so that leads you to haggle with them until you both come to a price that can be agreed upon. Sometimes it is fun but most times it is just exhausting. They always tell you a really high price to start out with and then you tell them you will only pay about 70% less of what their high price was. Then you give a little and then they give some, until you are both happy. Most times when you start walking away and tell them no, they run after you and tell you that they will go lower. It can be very entertaining!

I was also very impressed by these people because they are so talented with their hands. They make everything from the natural resources that they find around them and then sell it in their shop to provide for their families. The things that their hands can make are just pure amazing. The best part was that you can see them right there making it in front of you most times when you visit the shop. Only 60% of the population in Morocco can read and write, so their whole living comes from the work of their own two hands. 

Spices from the Spice Souk
These people cook with these spices in all of their dishes. As you walk down the narrow market street you can smell all the different spices so strongly, along with the smell of body odor, and manure. 
After a while of being there, you kind of want to hold your breath because the mix of smells starts to become pretty disgusting. 
 

Colorful Scarfs, Bags and Pillows
Marrakech loves its color. The brighter the better. They had tons of shops like this one that sold tons of brightly colored items that looked like magic carpet material. I bought a cute purse from a shop like this that had all kinds of colors on it for 100dh which converts over to about $10.00. 

Colorful Plates
Even the plates that they eat on are full of bright colors. 
Towards the bottom of the 1st picture, you will see clay pots that are shaped like Hershey kisses.
They are called tagine pots. They are what they use to cook pretty much everything that they eat there because they don't have ovens in their homes. They put the food inside and then hot coals underneath. The last picture has smaller more colorful ones. Those are used as salt and pepper holders.

Dried Animals Skins
Yes. Those are real animal skins. Alligators, Snakes, and who knows what else.
Speaking of snake skin.....while I was there, I bought some snake skin sandals that I love!

Open Market Area
This is an open area market. They sell lots of things here like hats, beanies, woven bags, and straw baskets.
People are very pushy and forceful there. They really want you to buy stuff from them.
The guy on the right of the picture is on his way over to Nate to try to push him into buying something for a "Great Moroccan Price." He was constantly told by the locals that he looked Moroccan. Of course that isn't true at all, but they just said it to flatter him so he might buy more things from them. It happened constantly and it was hilarious. 

Lamps and Shoes
Every building, hotel, restaurant that you go in has lamps that look like these. This is all that they use. They are all hand made by the people selling them. They are hand carved and most of them when put with a light bulb light up with color like a stained glass window. 

The shoes are so cute there. They have all kinds of summer type of shoes and all different colors. Some are pointy, some round, some with dots some with stripes, some made with zebra, camel, and some just made with brightly dyed leather. And the best part was the price. You can get them for so cheap.
Their money in Morocco is in dirhams. 
100 dirhams is equal to 10 dollars, and 10 dirhams is equal to 1 dollar. 
as you can see, our money is worth quite a lot there!

Moroccan Treats
We never tried any of these treats because they honestly didn't look too appetizing. 
I think the thing that turned me off the most about them was the constant buzzing of flies around them, not just one fly, but dozens. Pretty gross. They don't seem to mind flies there at all though. No one even bothers to brush them away like they do in America. I never saw anyone bring out a fly swatter of any kind. 
I don't think they own them there. The flies were attracted to the honey that was drizzled all over the top of these treats. I don't think that they changed them out very often either because even at the end of the night they were still pretty full. So the idea of them just sitting there day after day in the over 100 degree weather with constant flies around them......not too tempting for me. 

Tassels 
These things are everywhere. 
They use them for pulling back curtains, for jewelry, decorations and lots of other ways. 
They were fun to play with!

Ladies Making Homemade Bags
During the day, you can literally see these ladies weaving these bags by hand.
It was fascinating. 
I almost wanted to buy one just because I was so impressed by them and the product that they made. 
 If you are as fascinated with this stuff as I was, 
click, "Read More" below to keep on seeing all this crazy stuff!.......

Friday, August 3, 2012

One Man, Two Guvnors Play

Possibly the funniest play that I have ever seen.......
 I pretty much died while peeing my pants because it was just that funny.
It was full of British humor but since we lived in London for almost a year, we understood all the British jokes. I went early in the morning and got cheap tickets in the front row. Perfect view!

We especially loved the girl sitting next to me, Christine Patterson, who was pretending to be an audience member watching the play with her boyfriend, but really she was an actress in the show. They called her up on stage and she pretended to be so embarrassed but really it was all staged. Hilarious. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fun With Family in London

The first week of July, we had some more visitors. 
My brother Jeremy, his wife Molly, and their three children, Mckennah, Julia, and Kyler,
all came to London for about a week.
We got to spend some time with them and show them around our "home town" a bit.
 On one of the nights, Jeremy and Molly had reservations to go eat dinner at one of the Gordon Ramsey restaurants so Nate and I agreed to babysit. We had a blast with the kids. We went to Rainforest Cafe. The food was awful and very overpriced but we still had fun. The funniest part was when a mom was holding her baby and they walked past the stuffed lifelike gorilla that was in the jungle, and the baby completely freaked out. She was terrified and was screaming her head off with this horrified look on her face. 
It was pretty hilarious. 

After dinner we walked around the Piccadilly Circus area for a bit. Kyler and Nate went and did some boy stuff like go to the Farrari store, the chocolate store, and to the Apple store to play games on the Ipad. Mckennah, Julia and I went and did some girl stuff. We went shopping up and down Oxford and Regent street, to the M&M factory, and hunting for "One Direction" shirts and posters.
 (Mckennah is a little obsessed with this band. )

But my favorite part of the night was this moment below:
 The girls were so embarrassed!
They didn't want to go over there because they were so scared and embarrassed. They were just standing there looking at them and smiling. Then the guys saw them and motioned to them to come over. They bashfully walked over and stood between the two hotties while I snapped a quick shot. :)
Look at their stomachs!
I mean, what do people who look like this really eat?
Celery, lettuce, and water?


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Versailles Fountain and Firework Show

 The Palace of Versailles is unlike anything that you have ever seen before. It is full of glitz, glamour, powerful history, and huge beautiful gardens. It is an hour outside of Paris but is definitely worth the day trip. We found out that they were doing a fountain and firework show from 9-11:30PM. Going to the Palace of Versailles at night was one of my favorite things that we did in Paris. So we made a day of it by attending the palace during the day for a tour, breaking for dinner by eating crepes at a little nearby cafe followed by a nap by the river, and then heading back for the night show.
 The Palace is amazing inside. This is our favorite room. It has mirrors all down the one side and then windows on the other that open up to the gardens. There are rows and rows of sparkling chandeliers that light up the room. Completely breathtaking!
 A view of the gardens from one of the palace windows.

So during the night show we saw lots of cool things. All of the fountains were going off and had lights surrounding them. We had fun walking around the massive garden (1,976 acres). There were bubble machines everywhere so we were constantly walking through bubbles. Classical opera music was playing to set the mood. There were fog machines by some of the fountains that were fun to walk through. One of the fountains was set to music and performed a great show of music and dancing fountains, similar to Vegas. It was perfect weather with a gorgeous sunset. The palace was also holding a royal ball that night after midnight so there were lots of people there that were all dressed up in period clothing and masquerade masks. They really set the mood.
The night couldn't have gotten any better.
Here are some of the other fountains that we saw that night......