Morocco was the first non-westernized country I visited. It was far removed, culturally, from any other place I’d been up to that point.
However, I have to say that terrain-wise, Mexico and Morocco are similar. My dad is from la Sierra Madre Occidental in Durango, Mexico (pretty much an extension of the Rocky Mountains). Going through the Atlas Mountains in Morocco brought on a case of nostalgia for those childhood memories in the mountains of Mexico with my family.
My trip to Morocco took place while I was studying abroad in Paris. It was offered through my program and, to me, it seemed like an ideal trip to take. Over Holy Week in 2007, when I’m usually celebrating Easter, I was in a country where Christian religions are in the minority. It was beautiful to experience a completely different country. It changed the way I saw the world and helped me to understand another totally unique culture first hand.
Going through the vibrant markets in Marrakesh, I couldn’t help but think of those I had wandered through in Mexico. It only reminded me that the more you travel the more you realize not only the differences but the similarities in cultures and landscapes.
The warm, loving and welcoming nature that I knew growing up in my family was suddenly part of the way I was being treated on a daily basis during my week-long trip.
One particular day while driving through a pretty desolate area of Morocco, we stopped in what appeared to be an abandoned village. As we’re going through the ruins, our tour guide spoke with a local that lived near the area. He invited us back to his home where his wife would prepare us some tea.
See, this is normal. In fact, he considered it an honor to host us, if only for a short while. We walked over to his home and all 10+ of us sat in their small but cozy living room where the local’s wife served us tea and bread. It was a heartwarming and awesome experience that I will forever cherish.
In honor of that nice man and his wonderful wife, I bring you this dish; which, if I’m 100% honest, I didn’t eat once in Morocco. I actually tried a variation of it in a Chicago restaurant. After doing some research on it, I found out that Shakshuka’s origins are North African. Depending on the country, ingredients vary a bit.
This has become a breakfast staple in my house and I’m sure it will become one in yours too! There’s just one catch (or three) you gotta love tomatoes… and spices… and eggs. Using heirloom tomatoes (borrowed from my dad’s garden), this meal truly is a fusion of two cultures that I can’t help but compare.