Monday, December 12, 2011

Moroccan Cooking - part of any Fez tour

One of the most requested additions to a visit to Fez is to learn how to cook Moroccan cuisine. Gail Leonard is the "go-to" person when it comes to organising food adventure. The View from Fez asked Gail why Moroccan cooking experiences were so popular.

Gail with her favourite spice merchants

"Part of the answer is that once people taste good cooking in Morocco they notice just how different the taste is from anything you might find in a Moroccan restaurant in other countries," Gail says. "But there are many other factors. The method of cooking is important. For example, some of the most delicious dishes are cooked slowly. This is particularly true of tanjia cooking. This is even slower than a tagine."

Tanjia cooking is a method in which the ingredients are placed in an earthenware pot and then taken to a bakery where it is cooked for almost six hours. (see description and recipe here)

Tanjia preparation - Photo Tara Stevens

Gail says that another reason for the difference in taste is the ingredients. "Morocco has an abundance of fresh and artisan made produce that is superior in taste,' she explains. "Fresh vegetables, spices and herbs. The souks are full of wonderful seasonal fruit as well."

There is another side to Moroccan cooking that is very different from many countries. "In Morocco cooking is not a solitary affair. Its is a social affair that is lost elsewhere," Gail says, "Cooking with Moroccans is about storytelling; about passing on very old traditions and techniques."


Gail, who has a first class honours degree in professional training and development, will be leading the food adventures for The View from Fez World Sacred Music Tour in 2012. Gail is a self-confessed food obsessive hailing from Yorkshire, but currently living in the Fez Medina where she started her company Fez Food. Her skills for seeking out small artisan producers and amazing ingredients translate into culinary adventures all over Morocco and range from wine tasting in the hidden wineries of Meknes, to tours of ancient olive presses, artisan couscous co-operatives and contemporary cheese farms.

Along with Gail's food adventures, other offerings on The View From Fez World Sacred Music Tour include workshops on travel photography, visual art, yoga and talks on architecture and Moroccan culture.

You can find out more about Gail here: Fez Food
You can find the details of The View from Fez Tour here
You can find authentic Moroccan recipes in The View From Fez cookbook



Anonymous said...

Talking about Fes and Moroccan cooking. A very interesting program in Travel network in the USA featured prominently Fes cuisine lately.
The program showed mainly Moroccan cuisine, as practiced in Fes, but it also showed a public bath, hammam, as well as a traditional olive oil "ma3sra".
This type of TV show does a lot more to advertise Morocco as an interesting tourism destination as any campaign organized by the ministry of tourism.

Peggy Markel said...

I just recently met Gail in Fez while staying at Dar Roumana. Spending even a short time in the medina with her was enlightening. Her razzle dazzle smile charms everyone and her food knowledge rolled off her tongue in Arabic as easily as English.
She wins my vote as the go-to girl in Fez.