One of the great travel treats in Morocco is the food. The cuisine is delicious; from steaming couscous concoctions favoured in the High Atlas mountains, to tanzhiyya, the slow-cooked speciality of Marrakech. There are still some local delicacies that dish up a challenge for foreign palates, but Tori Salman was ready for a real taste of Morocco…
“Pastilla sounded like a wonderful local food, so I decided that I must give it a try. It was only when I found out that this famous Fes dish is traditionally made using pigeon that my resolve wavered.
I know they are regular fare in many parts of the world, but I can’t say that I was pleased at the thought of eating pigeon. To me they are merely rats with wings, and there doesn’t seem to be much meat on a pigeon. But reassuring news came from my Intrepid leader, when he explained that these days chicken is often used to make pastilla.
Our group found a lovely little cafe, where we stopped to enjoy a break and watch the passers by. It was there that I finally got brave – it was time to order my pastilla. With a some doubt and trepidation, I sipped at my mint tea whilst waiting for the food to arrive. The tea was good, but I was still a bit anxious. Finally the pastilla arrived, looking just like a little pastry parcel. I bit into the pastry, which was somewhat like a filo, and was rewarded with a combination of sweet and sour taste sensations all at once.
The meat, in this case chicken, was cooked with spices and layered with ground almonds, cinnamon and sugar. The filling was wrapped inside a pastry case and the cooked pastry was dusted with icing sugar.
I wasn’t sure if I liked it, it was certainly not a combination of flavours that I would have ever considered matching. I took a few more bites, after all, the cafe owner was proudly watching and I didn’t want to seem rude. In all honesty, I don’t know if I would ever eat it again, but it certainly was an essential Moroccan experience!”
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* photo by Betty Prange – Intrepid Photography Competition