Tuesday, October 20, 2009



In opposite order - the first one is the grave site of Rabbi Moshe U-David from a distance, the Tzadik we went to visit. The second is the lush valley immediately before you get to the tomb. Third is us in the closest Berber village before the Tzadik's tomb.



Monday, October 19, 2009

A Weekend of Backseats

I spent the weekend in cars. And buses. But mostly cars. It was an incredible journey. The first leg started on Friday morning. Mike, Lisa, another friend and myself, piled into Mike's Toyota 4WD truck with his surfboards in the back and headed south. We stopped a couple times, but basically book it straight through to Agadir...which took 8+ hours.

Here's a map for all you who like things like that (I include myself in your number). You can trace my trip from Rabat --> Agadir --> Marrakesh --> Ouarzazate --> Marrakesh --> Casablanca --> Rabat. Most of which was through the Atlas mountains, which means swervy, curvy roads and lots of glorious scenery. I'll see if I can't get some pictures up towards the end of the week. I also need to write a blog preparing my family for their upcoming trip!

But first...

So, like I said, Mike took us, and I took about a thousand pictures of the scenery - the Berber villages with everyone riding motorbickles, actual bicycles, or donkeys - lots of donkeys - and the hills (They might call them the "Atlast Mountains, but I know what mountains look like, OK, these were hills) that went on for what that seemed to go on forever. When we got to Agadir, there wasn't much time for anything, and I was dead tired, so we crashed. The next day I went in search of the synagogue. I walked 15 minutes down the main street before I asked for directions -- turns out the synagogue was, and I in no way kid you, NEXT TO our hotel. LITERALLY, the building over. I laughed out loud to myself. Lots of cops, and lots of people! The Agadir Jewish community is 80 people - total. (Rabat's is 200). But the place was packed. With Israelis. Two seperate groups of Israeli tourists, mostly older people, but some kids, too, had flocked to the south of Morocco to rediscover their roots and see places that they left 50 years ago. I sat next to one woman who had left in 1955 - one year before Morocco gained independence from the French (most left in '56). One man from Agdir made an tear-choked speech in Darija (which almost fully understood!) about how much the Israeli's invasion -- I mean visit -- meant to them. A few Israeli men then got up and took turns singing Moroccan Jewish songs. The Chivas, as usual was flowing steadily. As was the snuff. I've noticed it a great deal among older Moroccan Jews, actually.

At the "kiddush" they all invited me back to their hotel rooms for Shabbat lunch, but protested that I had friends waiting for me and I went back to my hotel, walked with my friends to the beach and spent the rest of the day sunning (not "tanning", "sunning", thank you very much). After Shabbat we went back to the hotel, to get changed for the concert we stumbled upon this antiques shop with Menorahs in the windows...I had to go in and talk to the guy for a while in Arabic. The Menorahs are really ancient, and well out of my price range, but some of them were gorgeous, and strangely made with only 6 candle-holders...but I did find a jade magen david necklace which bought...But back to the subject: I think I neglected to mention that the reason that a lot of AmidEasters decided to go to Agadir this weekend is because there was this massive "Concert for Tolerance" on the beach where a lot of big names (including, among others, Haifa Wahby, the scantily-clad Lebanese pop crooner) where 250,000 people were expected -- it ended up being more like 300,000... Anyway, we finally got changed and went to the sketch bus station to buy tickets for a 4am bus to Marrakesh, and then back to the beach for to meet up with friends.

The concert was AWESOME. Except for the sexual harassement. I won't get into that. But I will say that I felt like I was in the middle of a man-caf (you'll recall my term for the men-only cafes that litter the Middle East and N. Africa) only they weren't serving coffee. We got into the 1st tier of VIP (only a bit better than nothing) with little difficulty, but I still couldn't see because I am, as you know, exceptionally short. Sigh. It was alright, I got some guy to take a picture of Haifa for me.

Got on the bus at 4am and slept - alhumdulliah - all the way to Mararkesh with only sudden jolts and the sun waking me up occasionally. I brought my travel blanket with me. Yum. Way to think ahead, Shev. I don't know why, but I had a realization on that bus. In Hebrew, "Mazal" is "luck" or, in older Hebrew you might translate it as "the stars of fate". In Arabic, the words "Ma Zal" mean "still" or "not yet". Thoughts, anyone? Abba? I think they might ahve something to do with each other.

When I got into Marrakesh, I didn't know where I was. I had no orientation, and I had to tell my friend where to pick me up, so I went into the cafe next door and a guy showed me - on his iphone, using google maps - precisely where were were located. Still and all, it too my friend an hour to figure out that I wasn't at the central bus station, but instead at the CTM station. Ahhh! Anyway, it was alright, it gave me time to drink my coffee (so important), wash up, change my clothes, and do my homework!

The road to Oarzazate was even more beautiful (if that's possible) than the road to Agadir. The mountains seemed to change color every other turn. From red to yellow to blue to purple to green -- It was astonishing. And the Berber villages were vibrant -- people walking, riding, selling, wearing tattoos, carrying goats, and just living life.

Hillulah~ Close to Ouarzazate!
So we drove and drove and drove -- the friends of Shimon Bouskilla (the guy who drove me) sang Moroccan Jewish songs, ate Israeli treats (Botnim Amerikayyim!), smoked a little, and spoke in French a lot. I was in the car with them for 4 1/2 hours on the way there, and 8 1/2 on the way back. We became good friends.

When we got there - I had a fever. I didn't tell anyone -- there was nothing they could have done -- but I popped some ibuprofen and sucked it up. I felt better, and I was even able to eat the lamb. The lamb. The lamb. The lamb. I ate the lamb. I didn't think about it. Until I saw - as we were leaving - the herd. I saw the herd of lamb. And I saw the slaughterhouse. Full of lamb. In all forms. Alive and bleating, just slaughtered, half-way skinned, all the way skinned, and hacked into pieces. All lined up next to each other. I ate the lamb.

So the big Hillulah party happened on Shabbat, while I was in Agadir. But they had a special event this year -- a new sefer torah! There was a whole big party during the 2pm feast (of lamb) for the hachnasat sefer torah in addition to the usual auctioning off of candles, chamsas, and huge portraits of the Baba Sali. They sang songs - some of which I knew from Migdal Oz, some of which I knew because they were Ashkenazi (!) and some of which I knew from just general Jewish knowledge. It was all very exciting, and was only aided by the generous flow of Johnnnie Walker Black which itself was, as the party waned, collected for hoarding by the women in empty Sprite bottles and the like. And while the women didn't "participate" as such, they certainly lalalalaed great deal - sometimes even into the microphone...ow.

Most of the attendees were Israeli -- Moroccan-Israelis who came on huge, slow tour buses up through the mountains (some of which were just dirt!). It was such an interesting sociological gathering, not just because this is a group of people (Moroccan-Israelis) with whom I've had only limited exposure but also because of the variety of religious "appearances," if you will. Women in sheitls, men in black hats vs. women in spandex dresses and doilies, and men in shorts, sandals and yankee's hats. After the meal a few women took platters of treats around (see picture) consisting of dried fruits, cookies, and Mechiya (literally, in Hebrew (or Yiddish, for that matter): "The Thing That Causes Life" -- but its really just a bottle of Arak or some other foul alcoholic beverage). The woman usually ends up leaving this platter - or whatever's left of it - inside the tomb itself where people are constantly saying Tehillim (Psalms), getting blessings from Rabbis, and kissing the tombstone of the Tzadik.

So the grave itself (see picture) is located next to the synagogue (see picture -- note the King's portrait in the right hand corner. He's everywhere. Him and the Baba Sali.) which is located next to the furnace where people burn candles. Now when you think "burn candles" usually you think - oh, light the candle at the wick, let it burn down in honor of the dead person, right? Oh no. This was not that kind of "burning". This was BURNING. The procedure consists of literally throwing your candles into the belching flames of the type of fiery furnace you imagine Abraham was thrown into. It was HOT and there was a huge dripping waterfall of wax leaking out down the side of it and onto the floor (see picture). All told, the experience was well worth the drive.

I had to sleep over in Casablanca - there were no trains or buses when we got in at midnight. So I got on the first train (6:30am) to Rabat, and made it to school...but I crashed later that day. My shower felt like the dew of angels. My food from Baria tasted like ambrosia. My bed felt like the wool of all of those lambs slaughtered at the Hillulah. Glorious.

And now I'm back -- and so is the song of the post. Here we have Peter Bjorn & John singing "Young Folks" -- I really like this song, it reminds me of how I like my coffee got a touch of dark but its mostly light and fluffy. No sugar.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Finished Edward Said's "Orientalism"

A Garbage Without A Can
My roommate made a comment today as we were leaving our mansion (French for "house" pronounced: "may-zon") today and she wanted to throw something away. There were no garbage cans around, so she just put her scrap in a pile of trash that was sitting on the street. It had been swept up, probably at around 3 or 4 am (sometimes I hear them sweeping...its super loud and they always sweep the pile directly under our balcone). They sweep, by the by, using large palm frods, which (I believe) contributes to the volume of the sweeping. Anyway, all of this is beside the point. What is TO the point is that as my roommate dropped her trash on the street she glibly and conveniently termed "garbage without a can". Which is precisely what it is.

Funny Arabic Words I Learned Today
to cause to tremble - zalzala (past) - yu'zalzil (present)
which is a good onomatopoeia, but not as good as this embarrassing one:
to stutter, stammer - ta'ata'a - yu'ta'ataee; t'a't'ta'tah (gerund) -- two of the radicals in this word are glottal stops. Hilarious.
to be devilish, act like the devil - ta'shitana, ya'shtaytan (you may recognize it from the Hebrew -or the English - Satan)
but what's funny is that it was followed immediately in the book by:
to become Americanized - t'amraka - ya'ta'amrak (Oy)
and my favorite
to "front" (to pretend to own more than you actually possess) - fachacha - yufachach

A (Very) Few Reasons Why Morocco is Hamak (Crazy)
1) I've now seen two bus crashes. People yelling, cursing, and pointing. But it turns out that they happen all the time. Incredibly frequently. Who knew?
2) My friend thought that the green yogurt was clam flavored because that's what the picture looks like on the side of the container. Its actually pistachio. Not so delicious. Or maybe I'm just turned off because its green.
3) The orange juice they sell on the street is great. You pay 4 dirham, they pour you a glass, you drink it on the spot, they take your glass, dunk it in some sort of cleaning water, and rinse it.
4) They also sell chocolate in small pieces, single cigarettes, chalk boards, nuts, boiled chickpeas, hanging shoe containers, platic Winnie-the-Pooh-playing-the-drums toys, watches, socks, leggings, sunglasses, single tissue packs (1 dirham scented, 2 unscented), and anything else you might think of. on the street. And basically everything else you could possible not want.

My Love/Hate Relationship With FRENCH
1) ) We're trying to teach Baria, my host mother, English. Kitchen-chicken (and sometimes ticket) are tough words for her. Every morning we get: "Have “egg” good day, Sheva. Have egg good day, Liza!" She's so cute.
Lisa’s faux pas: The word for umbrella in French is pronounced “parapoulwee” but, when Lisa tired to repeat this word to our friend Mike, it came out “parapoulay” which, literarlly translates, might be close to something like “chicken-hitter” or something as “poulay” means…chicken.
The French are constantly referred to in academic literature as “colons”, which I find hilarious. But the truth is, the fact that the French were here with a relatively benign occupation, gives Morocco a feeling of class that Egypt didn’t have. Good or bad I can’t judge. But the Moroccans really embraced French as a language and a culture -- and it shows.
4) All of that said, French is impossible to decipher. Lisa and I bought conditioner that turned out to be tanning lotion. We bought sun screen that turned out to be tanning oil. I guess the French come here to tan?

What to DO This Weekend:
I could go to a hillulah - a Jewish saint veneration party at a shrine near Ouarzazate - but I have nowhere to sleep for the weekend and I don't have a ride there until Sunday after all of the festivities anyway.
I could go to Agadir with Lisa for a concert on Sat. night but its really far and I'd have to skip class.
I could stay in Rabat and be bored.
I'll let you know which one I choose.

SHOUT OUT: Scotty and Jon from Amsterdam SIT. Anthony, too. Lisa too- it was her birthday, as you know. And just because I had a sudden change of mood....here's The Future of Forestry and "If You Find Her"...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Screaming French Morroccans

these pictures have nothing to do with this post so I'll start with them - and for some reason I can't really "caption" them -- apologies, as usual: - this first one is me and my host mother, Baria and Khadija, our maid, who's really more like one of the family. She's the one who re-folds our clothes every week so well that we can't find them., teaching me how to cook Matbucha (here they call it Tuktuka!)

Me with the chickens. Mentioned in a previous post I believe I mentioned their 16 dirham/kilo price. Live. Just thought I'd give y'all the visual. Yeah.

First for the Foods [with apologies in advance to all vegetarian readers (ahem)]:
- I ate fake shrimp and crab. Brought in from Spain, doused in oil, and made from fish, I didn't quite know what to make of this new (albeit faux) food. I think I kind of liked it.
- I ate a parve cream cake. Weird consistency (it had nuts and fruity things in it) but very tasty. - I ate a meat cake made out of who knows what that came out with the dafina (another version of schina)...I really just had a few small bites. I couldn't eat a lot...it was meat cake.
- I ate pastilla. It was another case of "good things come to those who wait". I've seen people eating them all the time - they sell them in the bakery next door to AmidEast. Pastilla is a pastry full of chicken and nuts topped with powdered cinnamon sugar. Crunchy, sweet, but not too sweet, and full of cumin and cinnamon. Delectable.
- I ate a Cappuccino bon bon from Italy. This was the probably the best experience of my Simchat Torah. Sinking my teeth into ripe, round, delicious chocolate -- I melted.
- I drank whiskey (Chivas Regal) and soda. Just like all the other Moroccan men.

Moving on....

Screaming French Moroccans
So - right, screaming. That's what I felt like every Jewish person over the age of 25 or so does in Casablanca. Mostly the men. They do it all the time - mostly in French (unfortunately?). Often during davening (prayers) - in fact, I think I determined that, on average, they do not go through more than a dozen paragraphs before someone interrupts the reader, either to take over from them -- LOUDLY -- to correct them on a word, or to object to the order of the prayers, or something. It was actually hilarious to Lisa and myself -- we'd just be plodding along in the brachot before Shema or something, and then all of a sudden "Blah blah BLAH blah BLAH blah!" and we'd just sort of jump, look at each other and chuckle a bit. It didn't faze the other women at all.

The family we were staying with was an interesting one -- Shimon and David Bouskilla are brothers, and Lisa knew Shimon from her uncle Roni, also Moroccan. Shimon lives in Spain...kind of. Its very unclear. He has business in Morocco, and his family is here. His brother had 2 of his kids (ages 3 and 5 -- spaciest kids ever. Hear Hear, children of Camp Kol Rena: You have competition) with him. We know more about them and their family lives than I care to relate here, but I will talk about their kids - and Simchat Torah for Jewish kids in Casa in general. Really all that needs to be said is that I forgot how much this holiday is one FOR the kids. The candy was flowing just as much as Chivas. They probably spent 1,000 dirhams on candy. Literally they would take huge handfuls and spray the women's section and the kids (and the women!) would go crazy picking it all up - they (each child and woman) left with an ENORMOUS bag of candy - a crazy mix of toffee in lemon, lime, etc. to coffee bon bons (!!!!), to berry lollipops, to black licorice (eww) and honey flavored chews with real honey in the middle as well as the typical Israeli chocolate eggs and gummies as well as and American Mars bars, Snickers, and Twix. They also gave out small individual bags of candy (from whence came my Italian bon bon), and since Lisa and I hadn't come prepared like the rest of the ladies, those were the bags we took home. I had a blast watching it all, throwing some of the candy back to the men's section, trying to pelt the kids, and handing out the candy that fell in my lap to the scrambling kids.

In the spirit of my roommate's birthday (she and I had a dance party last night in our room -- the neighbors thought we were nuts -- a school party this morning) I will play you her new favorite song that I put on the last playlist that I made for her, entitled "Zweena III" (don't worry, there were Zweenas I & II as well). It's also by a band that my MIA language partner calls her favorite. Your song of the day is "Starlight" by Muse.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Makla Diyal al-Yehud (Jewish Food)

I kind of can't believe that I'm actually dedicating an entire blog post to the few meals that we ate at the Toeldano's house. Let me know if it gets too tedious. I hope you can take part in some sort of vicarious gorging experience even if it is.

Count the Cutlery

There weer 3 plates and a bowl. But if you count the plates you will be deceived. There were more than 4 courses. In fact, there were 6. This will serve as the general outline of a meal:
COURSE 1: We begin with Kiddush, then begin with the bowls of nuts and things to say, first, HaEtz, then, Ha'adama. Along with this comes the David's inevitable question of "what would you like to drink"? Options: Wine, white or red? Beer? Whisky and soda? I tried them all (though, unfortunately, not all in one meal). Then Motzi. Then A HUGE platter of all sorts of salads, my favorite of which was the grilled-and-then-sun-dried peppers and pickled lemon. Once this course is over (I'll call all of this the first course, since we used the same plate and utensil), I'm full. Done. Ready to take a nap. But no. There are still two plates, a bowl, two forks, two knives, a big spoon, a little spoon, a little fork, and a little knife with "Borei Peri HaEtz" engraved on it.
COURSE 2: Fish (this time it was patties. Really tasty patties)
COURSE 3: Soup (squash and pumpkin, except one time we had salad instead. with tuna. didn't eat much of that)
COURSE 4: Main Course. This first night it was - get this - two HUGE shoulders of....LAMB. I felt like I had just walked onto the set of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and I was John Corbett. And its not just lamb. Its lamb and rice and chickpeas and other things that were just heaped on my plate as I looked on dumbly, slackly sitting in my chair, not knowing when to pick up my fork or just stare at it.
COURSE 5: Desert. A huge plate of exotic fruit (some of which came from their garden, including a fruit I'd never seen in my life that tasted a little like a kiwi/banana mix - talk about a shehechiyanu) and a big cake - we got to pick each day which one we would eat. Pineapple, meringue, etc. Whew.
COURSE 6: Two varieties of tea (normal na'ana and wizoo i.e. virvane) coffee, a platter of small cookies and another of dried fruit and nuts. No one eats them. I call this course the "We-still-want-to-sit-around-and-talk" course.

Shabbat Takes Precedence
We ate Schina, the Moroccan (Sephardi) version of Chulent. Its got eggs and chickpeas and rice and very little meat. So much better than Chulent. We actually eat the Baria version of this every week, and, to be honest, I like Baria's better.

Hivdalta v'Kidashta
The most significant moment of all four meals came during the 2/3 course of this meal. When she brought out The Fish. The Fish, as I will call it from here on out, was 8 kilos, and she brought out the whole of it - head to tail - spiced and lemon-juiced to perfection. I once wrote a blog post about how good things come to those who wait. Its true.

To Preface:
In Egypt we used to go out every Thursday night to this place -- I don't remember the name, we just called in "The Greek Club". It was, indeed, Greek. It had a clean blue-and-white feel, sat right next to the Marina on the Mediterranean beach, and I went for the company and the ambiance but most people went for those things -- and the food. They served fish caught that day, each person got to hand pick their fish, it was spiced and cooked and served in front of them - skinned and de-boned at the table. It looked amazing. And I never so much as tasted it. But then: I ate this fish that Lisette Toledano served. I felt vindicated.

Death Meat
They served couscous. It was delicious. I ate it the Moroccan way, which I'd never done before. not actually with my hands -but straight from the huge steaming mound of couscous. I was therefore able to avoid eating HUGE quantities (and instead ate only VERY LARGE ones). They also had fabulous fried and candied carrots and onions that you could add to your portion, which I did, and enjoyed thoroughly. Then they took away the huge platter of couscous and brought out...not desert, which is what I had been expecting, but RIBS. Yes. I ate ribs. I can't remember the last time I ate ribs. And I think that was the problem. I was rather ill afterward. But it was goooooood while it lasted.

A Note on Breakfasts
They were great. The first day I woke up full. But I managed to put away 2 small pieces of bread - one with hommade jam and one with hommade creamy cheese (not to be confused with cream cheese, which it was not). They had croissants and traditional Moroccan fried bread with honey. Oh, and fresh squeezed orange juce and - truly delicious - brewed coffee.

And finally, from the album Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor (I thought it appropriate), I Gotcha.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sukkot, or should I say, "Uskut!"

"Kul, Uskut!" ("eat, and shut up!" or, if you prefer: "mange, ete toi!" [I am not to be held accountable for French spelling errors])

Words indelibly marked in my consciousness from Baria's not-so-gentle response to Jakob's complaints and "shuma"s regarding her dinners. During our 2-day food-fest in the Toeldano's gorgeous Souissi Villa, or, more accurately, in their gorgeous, well-lit, tastefully decorated Souissi Succah, we met some new people, tried to learn a new language, and I, at least, was constantly reminded of Baria's words to Jakob as I tried to eat all that was put in front of me.

We got to the Label Vie (high end grocery store) near their house at around 3pm. We waited and I bought a Swiss Army Knife for 45 dirham ($6.50). Jakob saw it when I came home and told me I could have gotten it for 10 ($1.20). Hmmm. Anyway, Lisette picked us up, let us buy her flowers, and we rushed home so she could continue to oversee the 2 maids and 1 manservant who were helping her cook for the chag. While she was doing that, Lisa and I went...swimming. It was hot, the pool was cold, and their backyard was refurbished (including the entire pool area) for their son's wedding last summer, so it is...searching for the adjective...lush.

When Lisa and I were finally able to drag ourselves away from the sundeck, we went upstairs to shower and get ready.
Things that were awesome about our room:
1) We had a balcony, only, unlike our balcony in the medina (I was offered some of my neighbor's fish dinner last night as I chatted with my mother on the phone) no one could see in!
2) We had a toilet that you could flush toilet paper in!
3) We had a bath! And a a bidet (pronounced: biday)!
4) We had spray deodorizer (unnecessary of course, not to mention deadly to the environment), sweet smelling, clean hand soap, vanilla perfume, and Clinique face wash. Oooo! And bathrobes. Mmmm.
oh, and
5) Beds. We had beds. We sleep on couchy things at home. Not beds. These were beds. And lots of pillows and comforters. Fab.

So we get ready, and we go down. Everyone (except for Lisette, Lisa and myself, and their daughter-in-law Julie who was also there for the weekend) had gone to synagogue. They brought regards from Baria, Jakob, and, of course, Mike.

Dinner was in French. Lunch the next day was in French. And then so was dinner. And again at lunch. The couple they had over were wonderful, but if I had to place them in the "I know some English" or the "I know no English" section of my Service Learning class, they would go in the "I know no English" section. I need to learn French. We conversed in Arabic sporadically, but Julie (the daughter-in-law) doesn't speak Arabic, so Lisa and I did a lot of listening and a good deal more of spacing out. So since I can't talk about the meal, allow me, please, to describe about the FOOD. It was a) a lot b) amazing and c) a lot. I will give each meal a title and short description. I guess that'll be for the next post.

For now, I wanted you to enjoy a song that I was reminded of by a friend who is aziz aliya (dear to me) by HaDag HaNachash, but unfortunately, YouTube doesn't have it -- so I'm settling for another song - one of my all-time favorites - by the same fantastic Israeli hip hop group entitled "Rak Poh". Feel free to ignore the propoganda at the start of the video.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sale...and, seemingly unconnected, Meat.

Last Wednesday I went to meet my roomate's language partner in Sale, where she lives. We did a lot -- we walked around the souk, ate freshly roasted peanuts (I smelled them...and we had to buy some), bought cheap jewelery and electric adapters, and searched for pliers unsuccessfully.

Grand Taxis are Weird
TO Sale: We got in a grand taxi off the street (not from a station). He wanted us to pay for all the spots. But I refused. So we got the taxi ride for free. (!?)
FROM Sale: We got into a grand taxi that our friends had found for us. The driver only wanted the normal 4 dirhams that grand taxis usually cost. But for some reason he stuck both of us in the front seat. (?!)

Never Ride Your Roommate's Language Partner's Boyfriend's Friend's [CENSORED]

Meat Shops
I feel that a word on the meat markets of Morocco is necessary at this point. Why now, you might ask? Well I'll tell you: I've been having dreams. I dreamt about the fluffy chicks being thrown around my room (thank you Mordechai for that crazy video -- NOT). I dreamt about purple tigers (who had gorgeous purple cubs!) being trapped and killed for their fur. And I dreamt that I was being ground through Baria's cookie grinder. So, like I said, a few words:
I went to a new souk the other day - with my Darija class, in fact. We were supposed to purchase fruits and vegis and take pictures with our greengrocers. But of course we got carried away a little bit and ended up in the meat/fish area where not only is the stink outrageous but the method of sale is absurd and though I walk through the old medina souk all the time and see these stands, it struck me as I walked through this one that I really should talk about it a bit more. Forgive me.
MEAT - Meat is hung out on display hooks for people to see and flies to crawl. Hung amongst plastic greenery and flowers to make the rib cages and legs (with hooves) look more appealing, its one of those things you don't want to look at but can't tear your eyes away from. In the back they have the brains, face, lungs, livers, hearts, etc. that come out upon request and further add to the strange fleshy-fatty smell. In the souk we went to with my Darija class I saw them washing the legs for the first time. They did it in the street. They scrubbed them with steel wool in wheelbarrows full of black brackish plaguey water...But this is nothing compared to the chicken stands.
CHICKEN - Chickens are sold by the kilo. (Usually 16 dirhams (like $2.15) per kilo.) They are put onto the scale...LIVE. Basically - a woman (usually) picks out her chicken(s), the proprietor of the store grabs them by the wing, they squawk, he throws them on the scale, then (literally) throws them to the back of the store, where the "machine" is situated. This is one thing I haven't been able to watch -- mostly because its partially hidden, but also because I...just can't. They throw the animal into this contraption and you can HEAR IT for about 10 seconds as it is unmercifully slaughtered by a man who does this to make a living. I imagine this is what any butcher/shochet/meatprocessor does, but its so ... in your FACE in Morocco.
SACRIFICE: They still do them! My classmate brought in pictures of her family holding, slaughtering, and skinning (the most gruesome part) a sheep for the naming ceremony of a newborn boy. I was stunned.

Song of the day (I know I've been lax...apologies) Its by a band called 1997, they're cute, punky, and fun. I really like this one, as many of you for whom I've made mixes will know: "Garden of Evil". Because that's what I think of when I see the stalls of meat with their fake green "gardens"...dahhhhh.

Oh -- and the next post is going to be about days 1 & 2 of Succot at the Toeldanos. Get ready. I wasn't.