Standing on a very nice ‘magic’ carpet welcoming guests is the annual duty of the Ambassador of Morocco Mohamed Mael-Anin and his wife Salima for their country’s Throne Day. Samira this year wore a heavily jewel encrusted outfit while Mohamed slipped into his djellaba, yellow baboosh and topped it off with a red fez.
I’m familiar with the outfits and love that this year somewhere between the buffet of pastilla, cous cous, lamb tagine and the sweet treats with mint tea Samira slipped into her ‘desert silk’ from Mohamed’s tribal area and floated about in this diaphanous five metres of fabric cleverly connected at the shoulders and draped up and over and around in what seemed to be a simple pattern. She loves dressing up and it’s her party so she can change as often as she likes. We on the other hand are the best black and pearls of winter wearers.
“Come with us on the trip” she said while delivering a take home supply of my favourite pastilla. These chicken almond and spice treats wrapped in pastry and dusted with powdered sugar are my favourite from the country of extremes where you can indulge so many exotic experiences and I’ve barely touched the basics. Samira is planning to take a travel group to all her favourite places and to indulge these women friends in the essence of her Morocco. I’m tempted.
She introduced us to Hassam M’Souli from Out of Africa a restaurant on the wharf at Manly who boasts the best Moroccan cuisine outside of Africa and is an award winning paella chef. Yes that’s Spanish but really just a ferry ride across the straits from Morocco, but my research tells me the pastille I love are apparently an Andalusian recipe originally and that’s just across the straits too. Food ever the passport to the guts of a country and its history! His business supplies Moroccan spices and the wonderful argan oil used for cooking and cosmetics! His love of food learnt from his mother in Casablanca at a young age.
From the delights of food and fashion to the serious side of any diplomatic event these days with a moment shared in quiet reflection for the loss of life on planes, in Gaza and Israel is something we wish we could do something about, as Ambassador Mohamed Mael-Anin read a short verse from the Koran. I didn’t understand it but understood the intent. Would that peace was as simple as a few heartfelt words.