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Last July, we escaped to the red city of Marrakech to discover the culinary delights of Morocco. Within the first few hours of arrival, our senses were overwhelmed with an array of scents, tastes, sights and textures. Local vendors greeted us from their food stands as we walked through the streets dodging scooters and kids playing soccer. We were breathing an aroma of spicy tagines (Moroccan spiced stew in triangle shaped pots also called a tagine) and kefta (meatballs) combined with the stench of produce that had been sitting in the sun all day long. I didn’t know where to look as my eyes darted from towering colorful spices to goats heads sat under hanging cows stomachs to piles of fresh chilli marinated olives. Excitement and hunger took over my body as I realized how far away we were from anything I have ever known.
Finally arriving at the Riad Hugo, our mouths were parched from the impact of the dry summer heat and the shock of experiencing third world, Arabic Marrakech! Waiting on the rooftop terrace was a tea set complete with steaming mint tea, petite glasses and a plate of Moroccan sweets. For the next hour we lazed on the sun beds, sipping on the most seductive, sweet, refreshing mint tea. We nibbled on pastries, which were sticky with honey or dusted with sugar and tasted of almonds, cinnamon and dates. However, their divinity was attributed to their pretty rosewater fragrance which sent my sweet tooth to heaven. This would be a ritual we carried out every day while the Moroccans dutifully performed salah (ritual prayer of Islam) as the red setting sun painted the city.
At the moment, I cannot put down a book which I’ve wanted to read for so long. I finally got my hands on it the other day and regretted not purchasing it sooner. Best Food Writing 2009 by Holly Hughes is a collection of food related prose written by various authors over the last year. It is a great read for food lovers. The book has been published every year over the last ten years and excitingly the eleventh edition is released next month.
I feel as though my body is starving. I do not look like I am starving. In fact, I am a perfectly normal weight for my height, I eat a healthy diet in moderation and purchase fresh produce as often as possible. Yet, I still feel under nourished and am becoming increasingly concerned about what we are really consuming!
I am constantly asking how much nutrition is my body actually absorbing from this mouthful? Where does this food come from? Who grew this produce? What has been done to it? How fresh really is it and how much nutrition is left after it has begun decomposing in my fridge over the last week? How much choice do we actually have in what we eat? Which eggs do I buy? Who, what, when, where, how and why? These questions go on and on and on… They’re constant and obsessive. They affect my daily living and have become too bigger part of my life to ignore.
In my quest to find answers, I have stumbled across an abundance of information and a whole new world of food activism. It is a very exciting yet scary time for ‘the food world’. On the whole, more positive than negative. There are huge changes happening now and with out a doubt our future relationship with food will look very different to the one we have now. I have happily realized that it is rather difficult to stick your head in the sand and pretend that this food revolution is not happening. or is it?
More and more people are choosing to go organic, eat more fresh produce, eat less meat, grow a few herbs and visit the farmers markets every so often. I am one of these people. But is this enough to have a healthy body and live in a healthy world? I don’t think it is to be honest. This is what I find exciting but scary… the world as we know it will change in a big way over the next two, ten, fifty or hundred years! You know deep down it will. Sometimes its easier to forget and pretend its not happening. Which is what society does until someone yells out loud enough to make everyone prick their ears up and start doing instead of just listening.
I am setting out on this journey, diving head first into the libraries of literature out there to discover, for my self what the future of food really looks like. I’ll start with books, journals, news and stories to become up to date with the problems and predicted solutions whist looking into the local ventures and discussions in southern Queensland.
If I could marry chocolate cake, then I’ve met the one! Shane Delia of Maha introduced him in the April issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller, 2010. He is breath taking to look at, but it’s the inside that counts. The sweetness of the rich dark chocolate melts in your mouth, whilst the pomegranate syrup takes you to the next level. Yet this is contrasted against the bitterness of the pomegranate and the crunch of the pine nuts. He really does give you complete satisfaction.
At a dinner party I recently took him to, my friends could not get enough of him. After all the ooh’s and ahh’s, he definitely passes the friend test. Although he is hard work, I’m willing to put up with that minor downfall in exchange for the most beautiful combination of flavours. After all nothing comes easy!