Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Born to the beat of a drum

Sophia's cousin Tachfine and his wife Meryem had a baby boy only a week ago. Exactly 7 days after the child is born a lamb is slaughtered as part of a ritual process that must be strictly adhered to under Muslim faith. The child is presented later that day to family and friends during a ceremony of food and music. When we first arrived there was a long slightly uncomfortable wait as we sat facing each other in Tachfine's home waiting for the remaining guests. While Morocco is a fairly 'relaxed' islamic country, you certainly won't find a cold beer at any traditional events and this one was no exception so, being Australian, i was beginning to wonder if this was an invite i should have thought twice about before accepting. I wondered around to find that there was actually 5 different tables scattered throughout the house and there must have been at least 60 guests, some dressed in beautiful traditional Moroccan kaftans with head scarves, some in modern glamorous kaftans with detailed embroidery and beading and some, like me, just in a shirt and jeans. Without warning there was action all around, waiters in neat black suits hurried around carrying big silver platters of seafood bastela for each table to share. Then came an apricot, almond, fig and lamb (fresh from the morning...) tagine. Delicious. With only a few moments to breath after our two courses, the tables were whipped away and the room was drowned in passionate singing and the rhythmic percussion of north African drums, everyone was on their feet dancing and clapping to the beat. I was truly washed away in the excitement of it all and was only reminded of the importance of this event when Tachfine and Meryem majestically appearing carrying their beautiful new baby boy Elies. That's how a baby naming ceremony should always done!

a fish out of water. immersed in Mothers, Aunts and Cousins
music playing.....Sophia to the dance floor please!

A quick review of my images

The lucky couple, Tachfine and his wife Meryem

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thank you in Arabic. Pin It

Zouzou's market

Mum guided Rob and I through the local food markets this morning in Mohammedia which is a port town that hosts one of Morocco's most important oil refineries. Mum knows everyone so Rob was able to get some great shots, Youssef the butcher, Mohammed and Meryem the vegetable couple, Zahera and Abiba the fresh bread makers. The only thing that slowed us down was that they all wanted Rob to be in the photo with them.

Youssef and his new mate Rob

the next generation

Sophia fresh food admiring

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On the ball

My Mum says that gossiping is our favourite national sport, well that makes soccer our second favourite.

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We're off!

It's almost hard to imagine only 24 hours ago we were standing on the beach at Bondi.

Our mate Jase dropped us off at the airport but was quickly summoned back when the lady at the check-in desk informed us that we were 20Kgs over our baggage allowance and she was going to charge us $70 per kilo. Even I couldn't see how Sophia was going to need 6 pairs of shoes.

Decision time for Sophia. Jase still had a smile on his face even after his second airport appearance.

 Sitting by the beach north of Casablanca drinking Fanta and sharing baked fish with tomatoes and potatoes with a bunch of blokes I just met, I'd only just walked down the street to take a few shots on sunset at Les Sablettes, a beach near Sophia's parents home, but within a minute of arriving I had been invited to sit with a group of local security guards and share the meal they were enjoying as the sun sank behind a horizon of ships waiting to dock in the near by port of Mohammedia.

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Rush trip to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Canberra the day before we leave for Morocco! 9am: I called the Moroccan Embassy in Canberra to see if they can help us with our food/travel book project. No expectations in mind, I just felt like trying. Why not? 12pm: We receive news that His Excellency would like to meet with us in 4pm: 2 hour meeting. Nothing too formal, just a chat with some tea and Moroccan biscuits. Lots of information, advice and contacts!
Unreal? Yes, a bit. Unexpected? Totally. Possible? Just need to dare asking! Pin It

Set sail to Africa

Omar Majdi who you may know from Souk in the City, his previous restaurant, is about to open his new Moroccan tapas restaurant Afous. This time Omar is going for a much different feel with a new location in the marina at The Spit Bridge, a world away from his previous location in inner city Darlinghurst. Afous is set to open on the 5th June but in the mean time Omar has been busy advising us on all things Moroccan. Omar represents a new Morocco. He is very proud of Morocco's history and heritage but at the same time he is excited about how it is evolving, especially its cuisine.
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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Meet the Team

8 months of hard work is beginning to pay off. We've met with publishers, designers and marketing teams and now it's nearly time to go.
Sophia and I have gone into overdrive. Organising this trip has become number one priority, all my photographic shoots have been put on hold until my return. Our days are filled with hundreds of phone calls and emails to contacts in Morocco.
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