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.
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.