History of Moroccan Food

History of Moroccan Food

I thought this would be the best place to start with giving you a short history lesson in Morocco food.  Like all history, it is something that has developed over a long period of time taking in factors such as location, climate and relations.

Since Morocco is located in the north-western region of Africa, its cuisines are enriched with the spices and flavours of this area and the regions around it. Unlike like many other countries of the world, food in Morocco is not just a necessity. Instead, here it is much more of a tradition and social ritual. 

Moroccan cuisine has always remained famous for reflecting the cultural interactions of the country with different regional traditions. Along with being stuffed with tantalising spices and juicy fresh vegetables, Moroccan food has also been enriched with its long history and continuous struggle to maintain its identity while allowing diversity to flourish. This is the reason why many historians, studying Moroccan history, consider its food an essential source to trace and study its remarkable history.

[caption id="attachment_267" align="alignnone" width="300"]Moroccan Medina Moroccan Medina Market[/caption]
Souk Medina

All the colonisers and immigrants who invaded Morocco left a significant mark on its food history. The first inhabitants here were the Berbers, who came to Morocco around two thousand years ago. They introduced staple dishes in the Moroccan cuisines such as tagine and couscous. The most important ingredients in their cuisines were dates, and figs, which were used in large amounts to prepare poultry and lamb stews. However, today people use a wide range of other ingredients too to prepare these stews. These include lamb, chicken, beef, meat, vegetables, as well as fruits.

After the Berbers, Morocco got the chance to experience the influence of Arab traditions. When the Arabs invaded the region in the seventh century, they introduced breads and grains meals to their cuisine. Some of the most famous spices that Arabs brought with themselves were caraway, saffron, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, and more. Moreover, they also added a new cooking technique to that of Moroccans which was the sweet-and-sour cooking, in which nuts and other dried fruits were used. Sweet and sour cooking was a unique combination of a variety of flavours that were inherited from the Persian tradition.      

With the passage of time, other prominent empires also left their marks on the Moroccan food history. This included the Moors, who brought the use of olives and its juice in the region, and also introduced new methods to preserve pickles. Then came the Ottoman Empire, which introduced Moroccans to the concept of tendered barbeques kebabs. Today, spices from different traditions are used to add more flavour to accentuate the taste of kebabs and bring more variety to them.

Along with eastern touch, Morocco is one of the few countries in Africa that had the exclusive chance to experience the elite culture of the western world. This happened through arrival of the French Colony. In a very short span of time, Frenchmen brought the culture of cafes, baking, and even wine to Morocco, and further enhanced the diversity of the region.

Nowadays, one might not be able to distinguish these distinct Moroccan traditions via their food. This is because over these years, the Moroccan cuisine has experienced several cultural changes that has added layers to their food taste and cooking techniques.