follow QRW on facebook

Wining & Dining in Morocco

Katie Katzman

Morocco photo

The Islamic call to prayer echoes off the white washed city walls of Tangiers, Morocco in the heat of the afternoon. The sites, the sounds, and mainly the smells are so different from other places in the Western world. And in this place, despite the differences, everything coexists in peace.

It is the nexus of three religions, of different cultures and two separate continents. Morocco has long been regarded as the “gateway” to Africa. The Strait of Gibraltar, which divides the two continents, is the divider between the Islamic Northern Africa and Christian Southern Europe.

We took a ferry ride from Southern Spain into Africa in late July. We were on holiday in Marbella, Spain and with the Rock of Gibraltar looming in the distance of just about every view, it seemed foolish to be so close to Africa and not step foot on its red soil.

In less than an hour we were in the middle of Tangiers, street peddlers begging to buy their latest wares, snake charmers street side, hundreds of boxes of dates stacked along the road on sale as the Islamic world prepared to celebrate Ramadan the next day.

There is magic here.

Guerrouane photo

The scent of sandalwood, herbs and mint fill the hot air. The angles of the building absorb the tilt of the sun in such a way that everything radiates. Flashes of blue paint are seen on buildings, on doors, on windows. This harkens back to the The Tuareg people; a Berber people with blue dress, with a traditionally nomadic pastoralist lifestyle.

And in this meeting point of three religions, of various cultures and people is food and wine. Like so many other Mediterranean countries, this is what brings people together around one table.

Escaping the heat of the afternoon, we ducked into a traditional restaurant for lunch. Portions of olives, couscous, lamb tangine, figs, roasted vegetables and gooey metaxas were served family style. Traditionally, food is eaten with one’s right hand out of the same dish, using bread as utensil. The focus is on breaking bread together.

While Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, wine is made in Morocco. The Atlas Mountains, hovering over Tangier and running through the northern African country separate the vast Sahara Desert and the cool expanses of the Atlantic, making perfect conditions for wine making.

Morocco, as a former colony of France and Rome shows evidence they were the first makers of wine on any scale. While under French and Roman rule, the art of wine making was given to the people.

Today, the people of Morocco boast they have the best wine in the world. We tasted it with our couscous, a Rosé from the Guerrouane region. Cool, crisp and not unlike those of the Provence region of France.

The majority of Moroccan wine is red but a small percentage of white is produced and made in the style of Chenin Blanc and the southern French Muscat and Clairette.

As our meal ended, we were given a traditional mint tea; a symbol of friendship and hospitality. A perfect way to end our day in a faraway land.


Is Dining Dying?

Château Margaux at Blantyre

29th Annual Best of The Best: Best of Show Winners

29th Annual Best of The Best: California Chardonnay

29th Annual Best of The Best: California Zinfandel

Photo Feature: A Nostalgic Look Back

29th Annual Best of The Best: California Cabs and Bordeaux Blends

29th Annual Best of The Best: California Pinot Noir

All Things Grape and Small, Winter 2012/13

QRW Vintage Wine Chart [PDF]

Gaia and Gaja: Italy’s First Wine Family

29th Annual Best of The Best: Champagne Tasting

Wine’s Decline: Wither Romance?

Aristocrats of the Table: Julia Child, Eating, and Dining

Whining about Downton Abbey

Cellar For A Lord: Downton Abbey, Part II

All Things Grape and Small, Autumn 2012

Best of The Best: California Cabs

Best of The Best: California Pinot Noir

Best of The Best: California Zinfandel

Wine Scene

Best of The Best: Vintage Champagnes 2008–09

Best of The Best: Non-Vintage Champagnes 2011

Wining and Dining at WGBH Studios

QRW Covers by Photographer Jim Scherer

Wining & Dining in Morocco

Wine Quiz: Varietal Variations

An Afternoon at Caymus

Shafer Vineyards: Treasure Trail; Wine, Love and Rock and Roll

Blending Buzz at Rutherford Ranch

QRW Wine Diary

Wines of the Quarter: Two Great Reds

Dernier Cri: What’s a Good Wine?

Style Doyenne: Profile & Book Reviews on Mireille Guiliano

Hugh Johnson Praises QRW and Publisher Richard Elia in the Boston Globe

Hear Publisher Richard Elia on NPR