Organising lesson #3 from Morocco came when we were blessed to join a local family in their tiny home for a home cooked dinner and hospitality. To call it a home cooked dinner doesn’t do it justice. It was an organised feast of local delicacies. The food just kept coming.
Our entire tour group, including the guide, came to twenty people. How the family managed to fit all twenty of us plus themselves and all the dishes into their home comfortably was astonishing. As we entered the typical Moroccan home in a small town near Meknes, with a very flat façade and only small windows facing outwards, I expected to feel cramped. I was wrong.
The home had three levels and we were ushered to the second level. The kitchen and other utility rooms were below. The second level had one small but open room for the dining and living rooms, and a small bedroom behind a closed door. Apparently, there were more bedrooms on the upper floor. It housed three generations. Along with the twenty of us, there were six family members in attendance, and after the main meal had been served, neighbours joined us well, bringing the total number in the home to twenty-nine. Everyone had a place to sit, and we were not cramped.
A small wooden landing at the top of the stairs was just enough space for our 20 pairs of shoes before we stepped onto the carpet. In the living room section, there was a bench around the wall, almost in a complete square, creating a wing wall between the living and dining areas, and leaving a 2-metre gap as the doorway. The bench was covered in colourful padded cushions. In the living room were two large round tables, each seating eight, with six people fitting around the benches and further seating appearing out of nowhere in the form of stacking stools. In the dining room, there was one table with the same arrangement.
This efficient use of space and furniture really impressed me. It made full use of the space and served its purpose perfectly. When not feeding busloads of visitors, the two living room tables are folded up and packed away, leaving the square living room open for gathering. And while the benches are comfortable, our guide Mustapha told us that most Moroccans would prefer to lounge on the carpeted floor.
The use of space impressed me, but the feast impressed me more. Each table was served delicious and juicy dates on the vine; classic Moroccan Harira soup (try Dari’s version available in Australia); an enormous tagine of chicken with preserved lemon, vegetables and couscous; a platter of fresh fruits; tea served ceremoniously; and just when you thought it was over, they brought out a lemon and coconut sponge cake with sprinkles. It would have been rude not to accept.
Where did they manage to prepare all this food? Well, I think that’s where the neighbours came in. Our tour company engages three local families to host their tour groups, and they each take it in turns. I think they also each pitched in with the feast, for which I am very thankful.
Find more organising lessons from Morocco here.