Moroccan hospitality is an art form that has been practiced and perfected for hundreds of years. One of the most important aspects of their family lives (which I happen to relate to) is food, and they center their lives around it. Plain and simple, Moroccans are in love with food, and want their guests to know it and enjoy it alongside them. Here are some do’s and don’ts that I have learned while being at the table with a Moroccan host family.
Do: Get ready to use your hands. Moroccans eat with their fingers, and this is a time honored tradition. Do yourself a favor – give ’em a wash and get ready to dig in.
Don’t: Eat out of the bounds of your corner. Meals are served in traditional family style – out of one large platter in the middle of the table. Embrace that it gets a little messy and eat with the team, but don’t reach to other sides of the dish, it’s rude, just stick to the one in front of you.
Do: Accept that you’re about to eat as much bread in one meal as you normally would a whole day. No silverware means grabbing bites with the piece of Khubz, or round style Moroccan bread, that your host mama will hand you a big chunk of. Khubz on Khubz on Khubz.
Don’t: Eat too fast. You might stuff yourself with the first course. You finally stop eating, and your host mom removes the dish… Only to bring in the second course. Uh-oh. You’ve pulled an “American,” and now you’ll have to just keep eating, which is not such a bad thing, really.
Do: Expect your host mom’s “kuli! kuli! kuli!” aka “eat! eat! eat!” A good host will keep ordering you to eat until you’re as round as a balloon and about to burst.
Don’t: Ignore it. Respond “La, shabet, shabet, shukran” (No, I’m full, I’m full, thank you) over and over until you know the coast is clear when you hear the “maziyen, Hamdullilah” (good, thank God). Phew.
Do: Laugh to yourself when everyone at the table belches loudly and says “Hamdullilah” (thank God) to themselves as the meal is finished. Hey, you’re eating aren’t you?
Do: Enjoy and love Moroccan culture and customs. Because there’s no better place to be.