Revolt at the Kasbah (Video)
View from Kasbah Omar, Anrar, Morocco- Photo: Russ Johnson
Sometimes you suffer from too much of a good thing, even the finest food.
Tell your friends you’re going Morocco for two weeks and they’ll likely lick their lips and wish they could be with you to enjoy the tasty pastilla, keftas, couscous and tajines. So why, halfway through our journey, were we willing partners to a culinary insurrection.
Don’t get me wrong: Breakfasts were great at every riad and kasbah we stayed – eggs done with luscious spices, delicate croissants in the Moroccan/French tradition, mint tea. Lunches were more of a convenience as distances were sometimes long and we were more focused on full days of visiting sites, villages, ruins and sand dunes than the food. So come dinnertime, we were ready for Morocco’s best.
Vegetable Tajine – Morocco Photo: Russ Johnson
And the best we got: Our introduction to Moroccan dinner was steaming chicken and couscous and vegetable tajine. It was great.
It was good the second day, and the third.
But our seasoned group of travelers, mostly from India, had been traveling for almost a week when we arrived, a bit road-cranky, at Kasbah Omar in the Berber village of Anrar. Our schedule promised a cooking workshop to learn how to make, you guessed it, a Berber Tajine.
Food was not on the minds of about a third of our group who had taken off for an overnight ascent of Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak at 4167 meters. A bit restless and missing the climbers already, we who stayed back were itching for something to do. Fortunately our entourage included a café owner, a classically trained chef and an executive from a five star hotel. After a bit of negotiating we were given the keys to the kingdom: access to the kasbah’s kitchen. So we mobilized: A takeover armed with chopping knives, spoons and ladles.
We sent the staff out with a shopping list and by mid afternoon the kitchen was filled with the sound of rinsing, chopping, steaming, and bubbling. The kasbah’s chef and assistant stood by, greatly amused and perhaps happy to have the afternoon off, taking in this impromptu lesson in Indian food preparation and stood at the ready with a board, knife, spoon, pot or just some heavy lifting.
As the initial flurry of preparation calmed down and ingredients were simmering happily, the sous chef cranked up the boombox that had been playing in the background and it was time for us to learn some Berber dancing.
That night our climbers remained in the refuge on Mt. Toubkal and the next day those who could would continue their ascent. But just 200 metres shy of the top, severe weather set in and they had to turn back. Weary, they arrived that night at the kasbah as though they were beloved long-gone soldiers returned from the war. What better to welcome them than a gourmet Indian dinner.
A tasty rest on the road to Marrakech.
Travel Arrangements by Ibex Expeditions