International Day 1 – Morocco

Today marks the beginning of the end in a way as there are only six more months of school.

And so we’ve moved on to the higher level classes – International, Regional American & Contemporary. 

As has happened every three weeks for the past six months, we were introduced to a new chef and a new kitchen.  Our new kitchen is one of the old ones and happens to be right next to the cafe kitchen as well as right above the glorious and well documented Meat Fab kitchen.  Old plumbing, low ceilings, really long and narrow.  It’s also the first kitchen on display when people come into the main building.

After a pretty lengthy lecture about expectations, assignments and a brief history of Morocco, we were off.

The structure of the class is such that there are two menus of which we choose one to prepare (in groups of two or three).  I’ve stuck with Joe, or rather maybe he’s stuck with me.  After a little deliberation we opted for menu two:

  1. Zaalouk salad (eggplant salad)
  2. Carrot salad
  3. Moroccan bread (a type of flatbread)
  4. Harira (veggie soup)
  5. Chicken w/preserved lemons
  6. Merrguez (lamb sausage) with sauteed pepper and onions

This being the first day of class we didn’t have any chance to look over the recipes so unfortunately there was no chance to mentally prepare (mental mise en place).  Plus we only had two hours in which to prepare a menu of six items.

The groups of three never really seemed very stretched for time, and it was really with some surprise when I realized that Joe & I had finished plating our dishes before a group of three right next to us.  Everything was about getting done with a good product, something I think we achieved especially considering the constraints.

The three items I prepared were the eggplant salad, the chicken and the veggie soup.  There was so little time to decide what to do that it happened pretty naturally.  We both started with the most time consuming dishes and kept going down the list – the soup, the chicken and then the salad. 

Another challenge today was that this is really the first time I’ve cooked something without knowing how it is supposed to taste.  I’ve seen other people go through this in previous classes (especially the Latinos with items like French onion soup or veau blanquette) but have never had to deal with it before.

This being my introduction to Morrocan cuisine I thought everything tasted delicious.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera so no photographs, which is kind of a problem considering we have to turn in a portfolio on the last day of class.

Tomorrow morning we travel to Greece, something of which I know a little bit about.  I’ll make sure to have photographs.

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