Food For Thought – Celebrate culture and food traditions
In July, the Canada’s food guide update featured a celebration of cultural diversity with the release of the food guide Snapshot in 26 additional languages. Exciting! Last month, the food guide featured how culture and food traditions are an important part of healthy eating. Given this, I thought it would be perfectly fitting to share with you my most recent experience living like a local in Morocco! This summer, I had plenty of opportunities to learn about different foods, food traditions and build my awareness of the cultural beauty of North Africa on my journey through Morocco. One of the highlights for me was….drumroll please…THE FOOD! Are you surprised? I didn’t think so.
The customs and rituals surrounding food are just as important as the cuisine in Morocco. My personal favorite is their sharing of food and eating together. In the Moroccan culture, many people believe in “Al Baraka,” which refers to a type of spiritual energy that occurs when families eat together. I could relate to this as eating meals together as a family was an important part of growing up for me, and something I will pass on to my family in the years to come. Why is it important? Enjoying healthy foods with others is a great way to connect and add enjoyment to your life. It can also provide many benefits and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. It’s about spending quality time together without the screens and distractions. It’s the perfect time to slow down, reflect and share with family, friends, neighbours or co-workers.
Now back to the food. I have never tasted food more delicious than when I was in Morocco. Seriously! One of the most commonly eaten foods in Morocco is couscous. My first experience eating couscous was when we first arrived. Everyone sat around the table and we all ate from the same plate full of delicious couscous with roasted vegetables and chicken – some ate with a fork, and others with their hands. No meal was without bread, which is a staple in Morocco. Needless to say, I ate a lot of it while I was there! A Moroccan kitchen staple is the tagine – a cone-shaped cooking vessel traditionally made of either ceramic or unglazed clay. Pretty much everything I ate from a tagine was a party for my taste buds. I made sure to bring one home with me to create my own Moroccan dishes! Nuts, olives, onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, squash and fruit are also important components of Moroccan cuisine…and mint tea! Lots and lots of delicious mint tea.
One thing that this trip has done for me is inspire me to travel, see, and experience all this world has to offer, including all the different cultures and food traditions. Unable to get away? Bring them home to you! Research different cultures and food traditions and try out a different recipe each month. Round up the family and encourage them to get involved in the experience! Canada’s food guide has some great recipes that you could try, like mujadarrah, eggplant lentil curry, moose stew, and harira. Find more recipes here: Canada.ca/FoodGuide.