Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Morocco How To #3: Tajine

Tajine, a traditional food of Morocco, is actually not a food but the type of pot that you cook the food in.  A tajine is a clay pot that is flat on the bottom with slightly raised edges and a triangle shaped cover.  Traditionally it is cooked over coals but you can also cook it over a flame on a stove top.  There are both clay and metal tajines but I would recommend the clay tajine as would most Moroccans you might talk to.  There are many different things you can cook in a tajine but I will only give you the how to for one.  The following how to is on how to make a traditional chicken tajine.

#1: Gather your ingredients and clean them.  You will need, a tajine, oil, 2 big onions, 4 big tomatoes, salt, a chicken (cleaned, cut and sectioned), 1/4 kilo olives, and cilantro.
#2:  In the tajine, pour enough oil to completely cover the bottom.
#3:  Cut the onions into small sections.  Size is up to your personal preference.
#4:  Cut the tomatoes into small sections.  Size is up to your personal preference.
#5:  Sprinkle salt over the top and cook until the onions are slightly brown.
#6:  Place chicken into the tajine so that it is spread out into one layer.
#7:  Pour a little more oil over the chicken and let it simmer for a few minutes.
#8:  Cut cilantro over the top of the chicken.  Cover the tajine and let it cook for a about 10 minutes.
#9:  Uncover the tajine and turn the chicken over.  Add a little more oil and the olives and recover the chicken.
#10:   Let the tajine cook until the chicken is tender and cooked all the way through.
#11:  Serve hot and eat with bread.  No silverware allowed!

This is approximately what your tajine will look like when it's done

Hope you will find this helpful and delicious!  Keep your eyes open for the next Moroccan how to!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

One Year.... and Going Strong!

One year ago today I landed in Morocco with about 60 other Americans.  As we traveled by bus from the Casablanca Airport to Mehdiya, I remember looking out the window and thinking "Can I do this?"  My first impressions of the country was that it was brown, fairly clean, the roads were flat and straight, it was hot, and it was NOT Albania.  As most of you know, I absolutely fell in love with Albania.  I was at home in Lezha with my friends and Albanian family, my freedom to do almost anything and was comfortable with the things I had in my life.  Here I was in Morocco about to start from scratch.  What the heck did I get myself into??!!

Over the past year, there have been things I have struggled with, am still struggling with and things that I have done that I am proud of.  There have been good days and bad days.  There are things here that I like a lot and things here that I don't really care for.  My job is not what I expected it to be but it is evolving and becoming more like what I want it to be for my second year.  I still have no idea what projects will actually finish before I leave and what projects will still only be ideas.  I DO know that I have made an impact on my community and that they will remember me after I'm gone and for that reason, I know I've been a successful volunteer.  

So on this anniversary of my arrival in Morocco, I wanted to list out some things that I've done and some things that I still want to do.  These lists are by no means complete but they are a good representation of my first year here.  

Things I have Done
-PST, PPST and IST!! (pre-service training, post pre-service training and in-service training)
-One academic year of English classes with two of my students graduating high school
-Spring Camp in Agadir with 40 kids
-Summer Camp in El Jadida with 80 kids
-Month long day camp at my youth center with about 200 kids between 3 sessions
-World Map Project
-Coordinated the SOS Village in Agadir and worked at one of the summer sessions
-Volunteered at Special Olympics 
-Co-lead workshops on English and Customer Service at Marche Maroc Essaouria
-Won a VAST grant for an AIDS awareness campaign put together by the youth at my dar chbab
-Helped at a PCV led Women's Wellness Conference 
-Helped to redesign and improve PST for the new group that arrived in country YESTERDAY! (welcome new group!)
-Learned some basic Tashalheet 
-Improved my Darija
-Made Moroccan friends in my community
-Learned how to wrap a lizar
-Learned how to make mint tea and tajine
-Traveled around to multiple areas of Morocco without getting lost, injured or pick-pocketed
-Learned how to live as a meat loving vegetarian
-Successfully stayed single (even with all the marriage proposals)
-Survived having a wisdom tooth pulled in country
-Killed my first cockroach
-Successfully integrated well enough into my town so that I no longer get "Bonjour"-ed!
-Learned how to make tortilla's and alfredo sauce (literally learned yesterday so I could put it on today's list)
-Survived the Moroccan summer
-Survived my first Ramadan!

Things I Still Have to Do
-Finish my AID's awareness campaign with my dar chbab
-Start a girl's sports club
-Start a Health Club/Environment Club
-Become conversational in Tashalheet
-Help a friend find funding and start a tourism project for our town
-Learn how to make msmn
-Learn some basic French
-Complete a 2nd year of English classes at the dar chbab
-Work at spring camp, summer camp and day camp next year
-Continue coordinating for SOS Village in Agadir
-And anything else that comes up!!

My service in Morocco is nothing like what my service was in Albania.  It's not better.  It's not worse.  It's just different.  Morocco is growing on me more and more as the days pass.  I'm starting to feel more at home here.  Time has been passing quickly and it's hard to believe it's been a year already.  If my second year in Morocco is anything like my second year in Albania, it's going to fly by.  I'm excited to see what I can accomplish in my remaining time here and anxious for all my new projects to start.  It's been a good first year Morocco, let's keep up the good work!