This was a relatively short trip but it was full of nostalgia as I rediscovered the neighbourhoods I grew up in. Rabat has changed immensely since I left in 2006!
A lot changes in a decade you might say but wow, there are so many new buildings and roads and tramways popping up all over the place!
However some things stay the same, like the unconditional love your family has for you or the traditions of religious holidays and of course the customs of the locals !
As a child of immigrants, I find it very difficult to explain the difficulties of living away from your culture and the land of your ancestors .
There are times where I feel so disconnected from my daily life in London that I do not know what to with myself . I don’t drink alcohol and don’t really like socialising in pubs or clubs.
I tend to prefer making home cooked meals, drinking huge amounts of tea and going on adventures!
I realised this more so this year, as this was my first Ramadan by myself. Coming back home to an empty house and barely socialising during daylight hours as I was taking extra time to reflect on my inner self.
Needless to say, I was very happy at the prospect of going to Rabat to be reunited for Eid with the family.
As Moroccans, we are very social people, forever going to each others houses, meeting up in cafes, going on road trips and constantly sending blessings to each others family members despite never having met them.
I feel this is something that UK culture (London , in particular) lacks quite a lot in day to day life.
What I have always loved about us Moroccans is that most of our gatherings revolve around food or drinks.
You may think this would be an issue when you have food intolerances but thankfully for myself, Moroccan food this time of the year is mostly tajines with lots plant-based side dishes,bread and then lots of fruits for deserts.
I have no trouble whatsoever sticking to my dietary requirements because at any Moroccan table, there will always be some vegetable or fish dish I can eat. Also, as I was staying with family most of the time, they were aware of my eating situation.
Breakfast is the one I struggled with the most as there are wheat and milk products galore.Sometimes, there is are coconut flour or almond flour cakes but not this time on my trip. My tip is have a fruit stash ready for the morning to avoid hangry (hungry+angry) mornings.
Around midday, we would venture out for some adventures. It was really nice to spend time with the brother!
Thankfully, while exploring Moroccan cities, you are never far from dried fruit and nut vendors, fruit stalls, restaurants or my favourite: Mahlabias!
These are little smoothie shops dotted all around Morocco which make the most amazing smoothies for less £1.
This one I had was absolutely divine!
When offered, I also drunk mint tea until there was no more mint tea in the pot. This is a gene I have inherited from my father who also has a mint tea addiction. It’s fine, there are worse addictions to have.
In terms of food, when eating out, if you want to sample Moroccan cuisine, I would recommend getting a tagine or a bowl of lentils or harira soup (if not made with wheat) as these dishes are plant based and the ingredients tend to be locally sourced. In Morocco, we use very simple spices in our cooking as we believe the quality of our ingredients are what make a dish delicious.
Never hesitate to explain to your waiter that you will be sick if eating the wrong food. Usually, they are understanding and should be able to accommodate for you.
While ordering my smoothie at the mahlabia, I heard two locals ask for no milk in their drink as they were allergic. Also I was genuinely surprised to see a whole aisle of gluten free foods in most supermarkets.
It seems that this food intolerance/allergy trend is happening all around the world and people are becoming more and more health focused.
This will probably make things easier for people with intolerance in future as I predict people will slowly shift to a more holistic way of living as a whole.
This won’t happen overnight and may take a few more years to become the norm but so far, I have always managed to find food to eat despite my many food intolerances. In my next post, I’m hoping to elaborate more on how I manage this whilst on the go!
Till next time, my healthy backpackers!