The Moroccan House
A world of rich fabrics and swirling colors bring a Moroccan house to life. Raucous laughter drifts from the kitchen and children dart between tables. The salon rings with life as a plate of roasted chicken and preserved lemons leaves the kitchen. Grumbling stomachs follow the food, their snouts showing the way. The layout of a Moroccan house provides function and utility. But the design is anything but boring.
A multipurpose roof.
Moroccan houses embrace the open roof approach. The wide open space is used for drying grain, grounding the TV satellite, drying laundry and clucking chickens. In the hot summer months, families sleep outside to escape the grueling temperatures. Occasional shouts can be heard from neighbors, their voices pinging from one roof to the next.
An extremely important spot in the house, the salon is where guests are taken to eat and drink tea. For many families, this also functions as a dining room. Some houses have two salons, one for guests and one for every day use. Round, wooden tables are typical decor for a salon. Ponches, or thick cushions are placed around the walls of the room to offer a comfortable seat for all. Elaborate carpets and textiles cover the pillows and sofas in the salon.
House warmings, naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals all use this room to host large numbers of visitors. In some scenarios, the men are separated from the women. This specifically happens when the drums start playing and people start dancing. For some small town weddings, men and women eat in different salons.
The kitchen is a gathering place in all cultures. Important for any house, this room brings family and friends together. Of course, this is also where the magic of Moroccan cooking happens. Steaming piles of cous cous are carried out of the kitchen on Friday and sugary confections materialize from the oven. Moroccan kitchens are always equipped with a multitude of supplies. But these are the most important ones:
Kukut A pressure cooker.
Tajine A clay pot with two parts. The top is a cone and the bottom is a plate. The cone keeps the steam circulating, therefore keeping the meat or fish tender.
Peacock plate A large serving plate with a gold peacock and cobalt blue background. Tea cups are brought out on this plate. Stews and beans as well.
Teapot Since tea is drunk at least three times a day, having a teapot is a must.
Oven Bread and pastries are cooked in a gas or electric powered oven.
Diffuser When you use a tajine, you cannot put the tajine directly on the burner. Even if you have soaked it, the ceramic will still crack. Putting a metal disc between the flame and ceramic base prevents cracking.
Gsaa The most universal piece of kitchen equipment. Used as a surface for kneading dough, this circular clay platter is thick and sturdy. It can also be used as a serving dish.
The tile work.
Moroccan tile work is truly exquisite. Shops in the medina create gorgeous mosaics for public fountains and private homes. Green and blue hues are commonly used in tile work. In summer, the cool surface of tile feels great against the heat. However, with high ceilings and little insulation, tiles can get chilly in the winter.
Rules of the house.
First and most importantly, take off your shoes before entering the house. Many people, including myself, wear blgha after entering a home. Blgha are traditional Moroccan shoes usually made of leather. They are close toed, flat and have a pointed shape. They come in different colors and designs.
No feet on the sofa. Be sure to keep your toes on the carpet, not the cushions. Most families visit others around 6 or 6:30 pm. Kaskroot, a snack served before dinner is the perfect time to get some socializing in.
When it comes to eating, use your right hand, never your left. A single cup is used throughout the meal for water. Most meals are served in one big dish. There are also guidelines for eating.
Start from the outside and work in. When eating a dish with protein in the middle, such as tajine or cous cous, don't reach for the meat first. Begin with the outside section and work your way in. When everyone has eaten the outside layer, the protein is distributed evenly among all.
Stay in your triangle. It's simple. Don't be reaching across the communal plate to get a turnip. If you are eating cous cous, place unwanted vegetables that are in your area in the middle. The center is common ground for discarding and taking veggies.