Where am I? Still high atop Zidaine le Francais, an amiable camel on the beach at Sidi Kaouki outside old Mogador in Morocco. To make a camel go, you say "Arrrrr...! To make him stop, "Sssshhhh...." Photo taken by Peggy Markel.
My acupuncturist’s fingers rested lightly on my pulse.
“Your body’s here, but your mind hasn’t yet caught up…” she murmured.
I’m home, but dislocated. Part of me is still on the shimmering beach at Mogador, high atop the hump of an affable camel. The tide swirls around his padded, two-toed feet as I gaze across the water to the old Portuguese fort….visions of Berber rugs dancing in my head…
Do I even want to come back?
On Thursday I slipped a spoonful of mrouzia into our traditional oyster dressing. At Abduls’s spice stall in the Marrakech mellah, the mrouzia was made of 16 spices, some familiar—cinnamon, nutmeg and mace—some exotic—carrot seed, long pepper and grains of paradise. A pinch of this aromatic blend lends flavor to fish and poultry dishes, especially those slow-cooked in a clay tagine.
Our Thanksgiving turkey was delicious, brined and roasted as always, but the savory dressing was subtly different, maybe a little sweeter, a bit brighter….
Was it my imagination or did body and soul move closer together?
This morning, still floating—now at the Kasbah du Toukbal in the High Atlas, waiting for the crackling, amplified call to prayer that never came—sterner stuff was in order.
I made a stiff pot of coffee with warming Moroccan spices. Abdul’s epices pour café are wondrous strange, but this version is made of fragrant spices you surely have in your pantry at this very moment. The flavor is intense—though you can play around. One of the pleasures of spice mixtures is adding and subtracting until you have a personal blend that’s right for you.
Now take a sip and close your eyes.
Who knows where you’ll go?
A jolt of Moroccan coffee with warming spices might put body and soul back together. The original recipe includes the coarse outer bark of the cinnamon tree as well as the more familiar spice.
Moroccan Coffee with Six Fragrant Spices
The original recipe calls for “pinches” of the spice, and the coffee itself is made in a French press. My French press is floating around Boston, so I pressed our old Melitta into service. Try it this way, then alter the proportions of coffee and spice to your taste.
Makes 4 to 6 cups of spiced coffee
For the spices:
¼ rounded teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
¼ rounded teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon freshly ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom seeds
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
For the coffee:
Scant 1 cup freshly roasted coffee beans
4 cups boiling water
Hot milk, to taste
Sugar, if desired
1. Combine the spices with the coffee beans in a grinder and whirr until the beans are finely ground.
2. Bring 4 cups of water to boil
3. Put some milk—a cup or more—in a small saucepan over a low flame to heat. Do not let it come to a boil.
4. If you are making the coffee in a Melitta: Pour the coffee mixture into the paper-lined cone. Pour about 2 ounces of boiling water over the coffee to allow the grounds to “bloom." Then slowly add the rest of the water, allowing it to drip through the grounds into the pot below.
5. Or if you are using a French press: Put the coffee and spice mixture in the bottom of the press pot. Pour in the requisite amount of boiling water, put the top in place and let the mixture steep for 4 to 5 minutes. Press the plunger down.
6. Pour the spiced coffee into cups and add hot milk (and sugar) if desired. Serve at once.