I’m Inspired to Learn More About Morocco

My husband and I decided to find a restaurant that we could go to and have a different type of cultural experience. We eat out a lot and enjoy food from a wide range of cultures, so it was tricky to think of something that we haven’t tried. We decided on a Moroccan themed restaurant, which seemed fun and different from what we’re used to. We’ve had a lot of Middle Eastern food and I would assume that there are similarities between Moroccan cuisine and perhaps Spain, based on geographic location.

We picked a location in Seattle with a small and unique atmosphere. The restaurant had small tables arranged around the perimeter of the rooms. Bench seating aligned the walls, and small ottomans were arranged on the opposite sides of the tables. My husband pointed out some visual similarities to some of the places he visited in Saudi Arabia, such as the rugs on the walls and the fabric draped ceilings. The atmosphere seemed dark but inviting. All of the fabric provided a sound insulation, so although it got really crowded after a while, we were comfortable and could hear each other in conversation.

image1

The food was good and was similar to a lot of other food that we’ve eaten. We were persuaded to eat with our hands so we had to wash up with a silver basin brought to our table. We had a five-course meal, beginning with lentil soup, salad and bread, and b’stilla. The b’stilla was impressive and a bit tricky to eat with our hands. Regardless, we tore into it before I could take an elegant shot.

b'stilla

b’stilla

After the first three courses, we were introduced with our main dishes. We ordered what was recommended by the restaurant owner, the tagine of spicy lamb with roasted potatoes, peas & carrots in a tomato cumin garlic sauce and the couscous with steamed semolina grains topped with chicken and seven vegetables. We ate our mains quickly and pictures became a second thought. Lastly, we had dessert, which consisted of a yogurt pudding with coconut, tea in a glass, and rose water for the hands to freshen up after our main dishes. We were laughing about the tea as we have close friends from Iran that love to drink their hot tea in glasses. It is a constant joke amongst friends that they needed to convert to a mug; after all, a handle is logical on a hot glass. We found it interesting that this restaurant displays similar cultural traits with other Middle Eastern countries.

Dessert with tea

Dessert with tea

During dinner, we met with the owner of this restaurant, to learn more about him and Moroccan culture. He was very friendly and sat with us while we dined. He told us that approximately 95% of his clientele were local Seattle residents and the remainder of the people that dined there were from a variety of places. Due to the limited population of Moroccan residents in the Seattle area, he explained that his business was based on the location, the local residents, and the tourism of the area. He therefore focused his business on his clientele, providing a Moroccan ambiance and thematic atmosphere. I asked if the food was traditional Moroccan cuisine and he confirmed that there were similarities and some of the main dishes are Moroccan. I did a little research and this restaurant seems to convey a glimpse into Moroccan culture and cuisine, but it appears that you should book a trip to Morocco to enjoy the real experience. They have belly dancing at the restaurant as well, which I’m assuming is probably an addition for his audience.

That being established, we enjoyed our dining experience and the hospitality of the owner and staff. When I researched the restaurant, I found some comments online that stated very high and very low reviews. Interestingly, the low reviews were from people with Moroccan roots. I must say that regardless of the criticisms of the restaurant, I have been inspired to add yet another travel destination to my bucket-list. Although there may be inaccuracies in the presentation and delivery of the complete Moroccan experience, I appreciate that this limited exposure has inspired me to do further research on Morocco and explore another culture. I also mark this down as another experience to reference when educating people about another culture. Careful consideration should be taken to facilitate that the culture you are teaching about is represented accurately and with respect. With some adjustments, perhaps this restaurant may inherent some new clientele and higher reviews. In the meantime, the people that run this restaurant are friendly, talented, and kind. It was a nice night out.

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7 thoughts on “I’m Inspired to Learn More About Morocco

  1. Wow, your experience sounds very interesting. I have never been to a restaurant like that before. I think it is really cool that the owner sat with you and answered all your questions. I typically tend to only go to places that I am familiar with, but it sounds like it would be a great learning experience to go to a restaurant like you described.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading about your experience! I like that you got a chance to talk with the owner as well; I found that talking with someone from that culture in that setting was really helpful and made it more meaningful. I also liked your point about careful consideration when teaching about a culture and making sure it is accurate and coming from a point of respect.

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  3. Hi Nicole! It sounds like you guys had a blast. I’ve always wanted to try Moroccan food so thanks for sharing and I hope to try this restuarant. The moroccan culture is very intriguing to me and the food looks super delicious! Also, I liked how you pointed out how people should be respectful when researching (or just hanging out with individuals from other cultures). I agree 100%. I think it’s important for people to have an open mind when doing so because it will broaden your knowledge of the culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I did not know that there was local Moroccan food in Seattle, I will have to try it sometime. I think that with any ethnic foods, there will be “Americanized” versions to appease the local clientele. Many Americans are not used to completely ethnic dishes, so often times restaurants try to find a middle ground that incorporates the traditional foods but also pleases the public. Personally, I like trying to find hidden gems that serve food that is the closest to “ethnic” because i like to try new foods that I would not usually order.

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  5. I think that the Americanization of ethnic foods can also be considered a way in which various cultures assimilate and blend their own native cultures with American culture. Sometimes as Melissa notes it can be because Americans are not accustomed to different flavors or traditions, other times it is their desire to blend in and belong a little more.

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  6. I read another review about this same restaurant when I was trying to find new places to eat. It sounded really cool, and apparently it’s more about the theme than the food (from what I read). It sounds like, from what you’re saying, that that appears to be correct.

    It also seems to me that the owner has gone for more of a “touristy” approach, which is perfectly fine for Seattle, but maybe those people with Moroccan roots are just missing the tastes of home. Makes sense to me.

    It’s interesting how “Americanized” everything gets when it’s engulfed by American culture. I almost wonder if it’s because our cultural personality is a little too overbearing. As consumers, we always want the next new thing, but at the same time, we want it to be familiar and not too strange (and scary). So, to be on the safe side, ethnic restaurant owners stick with foods that Americans like, with a little (in this case) Moroccan flair. The Turkish restaurant I went to was the same; very Americanized, enough so the people eating there could tell what the food was (even if it was new and different), but apparently very far from what Middle Eastern food actually tastes like. In a classroom, I feel that since the kids are being raised as American citizens, then it is the teacher’s job to ensure that they are receiving education in American values (in other words, Americanizing the students). However, I also think that it is important to be aware of assumptions we hold, and be sure that we aren’t sending messages to the kids that the way their parents teach them is wrong, or bad, or anything else negative. If we can, we should embrace their culture and differences, and turn it into a learning experience for the whole class (as well as the teacher!).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Everyone,

    Thank you for your comments on this post. It’s been really fun and interesting to read your responses to this personal reflection. I agree with all of you on the feedback you’ve provided and appreciate your insight and kind words. I loved this assignment, one because I love to eat, but also because it helped me reflect a lot on many decisions that I make, even my food choices. I did find the restaurant that we ate at more thematic than authentic, but I must share that I have also never visited Morocco. I’ve been inspired to learn more about Morocco prior to recommending this establishment to others due to authenticity. I cannot stress enough how kind and helpful the staff were. I would recommend this place based on that experience. I hope this helps clarify my feelings about this venue!

    Best,

    Nicole

    Like

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