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Sep 12, 2007 06:52 PM

Am I missing the point? (Moroccan food)

I have been (rightfully) told off on here before for having opinions about a cuisine while being relatively ignorant of it; so I figured this was the best place to come to ask about another cuisine that I'm even more ignorant of.

I went out for dinner this evening to a central London restaurant billed as Moroccan. I had no real argument with much of the food, but one of our dishes was quite perplexing. It was essentially large slices of carrot, cooked until very soft, and smaller slices of celery, cooked similarly soft, in a large amount of very thin broth, to the extent where it was basically a soup with bits in. Given that (a) this was in a serving dish rather than individual soup bowls, (b) we were eating off flat plates, and (c) all the flavour of the vegetables had been leeched out into the liquid surrounding them, we basically just ignored that dish (not a huge problem at the time, since everything else was more than ample).

What I'm wondering is whether this was a case of me missing the point of the dish, or the kitchen sending something out without due care and attention, or the management thinking that any old rubbish would do for the tourists as long as the decor looked suitably cod-Moroccan. Any thoughts?

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  1. I have no idea what this dish was or about the scruples of the restaurant, but in many cuisines including Moroccan, one does not eat main dishes on their own. The main dish is a type of stew, or protein and veg cooked in a liquidy gravy type dish and you put that on your plate either next to or atop a staple starch like rice or in this case couscous and mix it together, or sop it up with a slice of some sort of bread. Perhaps you were supposed to have done that. Also, in Middle Eastern cuisines, as well as Persian and S. Asian, veggies typically are cooked until very soft and nearly but not quite falling apart---overcooked by Western standards. Westerners tend to have them slightly undercooked (by ME or Indian standards), while some East Asian cuisines call for just par-cooked or nearly raw veggies. It is just a matter of preference and suits the rest of the cuisine (i.e. you can mash up an extremely mushy carrot into your couscous).

    3 Replies
    1. re: luckyfatima

      Thanks for the reply! I certainly wouldn't have expected to eat it just on its own, but there really was such a large amount of liquid that it was much more like a very thin soup than anything else, and it was too thin to mix properly with the couscous. If we'd put even a quarter of it apiece (there were two of us) on our plates it would have been spilling over the edges. I'm wondering if we were supposed to fish the vegetables out of the liquid, take a few spoonfuls of the liquid, and leave the rest.

      1. re: Kake

        It sounds like a cous cous...Wasn't it served with a dish of prepared cous cous, i.e. cooked pasta?

        1. re: Elchilango

          Yes, there was a dish of plain couscous too. We had a tagine with chicken and small sausages, another dish with lamb, and the dish of confusing vegetables.

    2. moroccan cuisine is one of my favorites, but i never slam people for not liking something i do. typically, lots of smaller dishes accompany the meal as condiments, side and garnishes. this sounds like something to top on couscous -- a bit of the soft veggies with a bit of broth.

      rather than assume the kitchen is sending out *rubbish*, if i'm perplexed by something i've ordered i always just ask the server. especially since you liked everything else.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Unfortunately it was way too busy to ask the servers anything! They really were rushed off their feet.

        I suppose the answer is that I should try another Moroccan place, at a quieter time, and hopefully get the chance to ask some questions.