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A Taste of Morocco in SF



My mother's family is Moroccan and to them, everything equals food. Visits from family: food. Saturdays: food. Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays: food. Getting on a plane = packing food. My suitcase from a recent trip to Toronto was, in fact, full of Tupperware containers of couscous, tagines and salads when I got home. Here’s how someone homesick for Moroccan copes:

1. I get preserved lemons from Rainbow Grocery. You can find them in one of the bins at the back of the store, near the olives. I dice them and put them in salads with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, hearts of celery and onion. And a dash of parsley.

2. The Fatted Calf at the Ferry Building often carries lamb brochettes marinated in harissa. Nothing brings back home like the smell of lamb and harissa.

3. Tazi Designs off of Gough Street carries sets of Moroccan tea glasses for $36. I love the fuschia ones. You can also buy the traditional tea trays and engraved teapots.

4. Speaking of which, there's no need to get all fancy with your tea leaves when you're making Moroccan mint tea. Head over to Clement Street and buy some inexpensive gunpowder tea; steep about 3 teaspoons of tea in four cups of water (some people prefer to boil the green tea first) then add half of a bunch of fresh mint, preferably spearmint. Pour the tea into your Tazi glasses and add lots of sugar. That's how you do it.

5. I bought my couscousier (the traditional two-tiered cous cous steamer) in Morocco but you can buy exactly the same one at Sur La Table. Same with a tagine; Emile Henry makes a quite nice cast iron one. But the fact is that if you want an authentic Moroccan tagine it has to be unglazed and made of clay and the only place to get that is online at Tagines.com.

6. The one, the only, the original Moroccan cookbook was written by local writer Paula Wolfert: Couscous and Other Good Foods of Morocco.

7. To keep up with the future of Moroccan cooking, I drop by Mourad Lahlou's Aziza. Lahlou has a special place in my heart because he handrolls his couscous and handrolling couscous is one of the first things I ever learned to do in the kitchen. But he's also an adventurous and modern cook who's willing to leave tradition behind.