For many families around the world, preparing and sharing a meal for visitors to their country is a way to extend their hospitality, to express their love for their culture or country.
If you’ve experienced this you know exactly what we mean. We have been blessed to have meals prepared for us by friends in countries such as UK, India, UAE, France and Spain. It’s brought our families much closer and till now we await their visit to the USA so we can return the hospitality shown to us by preparing a meal for them.
In Morocco, we not only had the opportunity to share a meal prepared by a local family. But we also got to eat with their extended family and with our hands. You should have seen the delight in our kids faces when they heard this.
Today, we would have tajine a popular Berber dish made throughout North Africa. The name tajine comes from the earthen pottery used to pressure cook stews and couscous. Our meal would consists of lamb and vegetables with couscous. The tajine was so large, it was literally bigger than Lou Lou.
As everyone found a seat at the table, our hosts asked if we wanted any forks. We decided to follow what they do and dug into the couscous with our hands. As our host grabbed pieces of meat and vegetables and placed it on our plate, we then understood that this was a sign of hospitality and began our meal.
At first it was difficult to eat the couscous without it falling all over your arm as you try to get it from tajine to mouth. Jaf saw how messy it was and asked nicely for a spoon. 🙂 We watched as our hosts would grab a handful of the couscous and squeeze it together in their palm, creating a little oval ball before eating it and so we followed suit. It was our first time eating this way and found it quite fun.
Time flew as the conversation flowed and our stomachs became full. And as we looked back at the almost empty tajine we were grateful and humbled that we were able to share this experience with a wonderful and warm family.
Our children also learned a lot from this experience. “Mom, is this our new cousins?!.”, said Lou Lou. She noticed that both her parents were enjoying the meal and not rushing through it like we normally do. They noticed that we “bonded” with others on the table, laughed, joked and openly shared our lives and experiences. She realized that somehow this experience brought us all closer, like family, even though we’re worlds apart.