Ask anyone what they think of American food and they will tell you that fast food has ruined the world (since USA is sinonimous to hamburgers, fries, sugar and salt – right?). I think, however, that the USA might have the BEST food in the world.
I like food.
One of the reasons why I was so excited about coming to Morocco this summer was because I had heard WONDERS about moroccan cuisine. In my mind I pictured all the different couscous dishes I was going to eat, the tagines, the fresh fruit and the different salads. People refer to moroccan cuisine as the best in the world, with intricate flavors and spices and with the use of the freshest veggies and meats available.
I am not a world traveler, but I have traveled a lot . South America, Central America, Europe, Middle East and now North Africa. And I would like to say that Moroccan food is NOT the best food in the world, in fact, it doesn’t even make it close to the top of the list.
Go to Chile, and you eat lots of vegetables, fruits, bread, chicken and meat. Israel and the hummus, pita, falafel, salads and feta. Italy and the olives, pasta and pizza. France and the baguette, cheese, pastries and butter. Iran and the rice, stews, fresh fruit and sweets. Nicaragua and the rice and beans, plantains, mangoes and coffee. Mexico and the tortillas, hot peppers, cilantro, salsa and shredded beef. Every place that you go to has really good food, and some not so good… but they all have something that you will like, and that will make you want to have that food in your life forever. The United States, being the melting pot that it is, has brought all these flavors to its residents, and it is not taco bell, panda express and pizza hut. Immigrants from every corner of the world come here and open restaurants with authentic food. Later they open supermarkets and grocery stores which sell exotic ingredients, that allow you to play a game of trial and error when you go back home and try them out.
When I lived in Israel, my friend Reed and I would go to a restaurant and order a sandwich and a halumi salad to share. There are no words to describe the flavors of that salad. It was a warm salad, and also a cold salad, it had a dressing packed with flavor, with cherry tomatoes that popped in your mouth and bean sprouts to give it some crunch…and the cheese… oh that cheese….
Back in the States I looked everywhere for that dish, until finally I found a package of halumi cheese in the specialty section of Whole Foods.
I was set.
The next day I made halumi salad, and Proust would have been taking notes from me as I bit on that piece of cheese and was transported to Ben Gurion Ave in Haifa, sitting under a tree atFatoush Restaurant, sharing a salad with my friend Reed.
I LOVE israeli food. I LOVE persian food. I LOVE thai food. And I have them all available to me in the States.
In Morocco, when we go out and eat, no matter what restaurant big/small fancy/low key… I have only these choices for my meal: tagine, couscous, pizza, sandwich (w/fries), kabab (w/fries), or a salad with shrimp or tuna drenched in a creamy dressing.
So although the kababs and the tagine’s are tasty, there is no variety available, they either deep fry their vegetables or cover them in mayonnaise, and after a month of being here I am growing a little restless, I miss the United States, I miss “American Cuisine”.
As a side note, I did not grow up in the US, and many friends regarded me as a traitor for moving to the country of consumerism and materialism. Many people that I know today think of the states as a place where people are immune to the problems of the world, living in a bubble of political degradation, Hollywood, white picket fenced houses, Air Conditioning, SUV’s and McDonalds. I do not make judgements about coutries that I have never been to, I fill with anticipation and excitement at the thought of discovering a new place, a new culture… People should give the US a chance, or they will be missing out, big time (going to Disney Land in Miami for a week-long break does not count). I call the United States my home now. I met my husband there, I got an education there, I will have my chidlren there, and perhaps one day Iwill move away, but for the time being, I am greatful and happy. AND had I not moved to US, I don’t think I would have discovered Tom Yum Guy – the best (thai) soup ever invented.