Having spent a season working and surfing out in the Moroccan surfing hub of Taghazout there are a few sights and smells that are really embedded in my memories of my time spent amongst the exotic and mesmerising culture that fills this tip of northern Africa.
And yes the view over Anchor Point as the swell ploughs through in perfect. mechanical like perfection is one of them. As are the never ending rights of Banana Point, perfect for long boarders and shortboards alike.
But out of the water Morocco offers some of the simpler things in life, the tastes and smells that only Morocco can deliver – and no I’m not talking about some of the more ‘questionable smells’ that come with a slightly more developing part of the world!
…although those too are embedded in my memory and I doubt they’ll ever shift!
Nope I’m talking about two of my favourite parts of Moroccan culture that will no doubt be something that any surfer whose made the trip to where the Sahara meets the ocean will reminisce upon as much as the waves they came for.
Simple Food, Simply Cooked
Everyone knows that any surfer needs to be fuelled to make the most out of the surf on offer – you cant just wing it on junk food or noodles anymore, you want to be at the top of your game…and that means fuelling your body.
Luckily Moroccans have perfected the post surf feed in the form of the Tagine. If I’m going to describe it crudely it’s basically the Moroccan version of a hot pot! In reality though it’s a meal, an experience and the taste of an entire country.
Every restaurant has it’s own unique set of flavours and secrets for the perfect tagging but the basics remain the same – mix together an array of spices in olive oil, in the bottom of the dish, marinade the meat in the sauce and place at the centre, layer up a mix of veggies on top of this and top with more spices and flavouring.
From there it’s simply a case of putting on the lid (usually orate if you’re at a nice place!) and cooking on top of a medium open flame for an hour or so.
The result is a beautiful communal dish, eaten with your hands and some freshly baked bread. The meat will fall off the bone, the veggies will be steamed to perfection and the whole thing will taste of Africa!
Without a doubt my favourite post surf dish I’ve tried anywhere in the world!
To compliment the tagging, and to give you an energy boost throughout the day the Moroccans have also combined sugar and flavour in the form of mint tea. If you’re surfing in Morocco this will basically be your substitute for Red Bull as the sugar content will have you buzzing!
Despite the extravagant presentation if you order in a restaurant out there (ornate glass, card silver tea pots and waiters pouring from arms stretched high!) it’s actually a simply drink to put together, although admittedly it took me more than a few tries to perfect it!
Wash the green tea leaves quickly in hot water and drain (use no more than a shot or two of water for this) then add more hot water to stew the tea. Quickly add a whole heap of fresh mint leaves (including stalks) and be VERY liberal with this, it quickly wilts down so shove some more in there!
Finally add sugar…ALOT of sugar! Ideally cubes work best and for 2 glasses you’ll want about 30 sugar lumps…seriously the more you can dissolve the better!
To serve pour one glass, open the pot and pour it back in, repeat a few times to make sure all the flavours are mixed in nicely!
If you’ve got a steady hand the final pour should increase in height (bonus points if you can stand on the table!) and then serve – hot sugary and delicious!
Mint tea done properly