Meghan Markle and Moroccan Mystique

If you’re even halfway on top of current events-and I don’t mean politics, but entertainment-then you know Meghan Markle made a whirlwind trip to NYC this past long weekend for some R&R and a baby shower to celebrate the upcoming arrival of her first royal baby!  With famous friends, fabulous flower arrangements and those edgy, all-black maternity ensembles, I think all of our jealousy-cups runneth over.

And no sooner than her shimmering private jet tires touch down on British ground, she hops back on a plane-this time with her prince in tow-to take a short trip to Morocco for discussions on youth empowerment and the importance of education for women.  Hear hear!

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Photo AP Yui Mok

Morocco is definitely on my bucket list of glamorous and mysterious places to visit.  But since we sadly won’t be accompanying Meghan on this particular trip (next time maybe?!) not to fear-we can bring Morocco to us in the form of beautiful Moroccan-inspired recipes that I believe even foodie-obsessed Meghan would approve!

But first, what a small world it is.  I think most people, myself included, who don’t typically cook with these spices or ingredients can be massively intimidated by a lot of these recipes and a lot of that has to do with the language barrier.  Sometimes ingredients or methods can sound so overwhelmingly complicated.

But when you take a moment to define things, the recipes really come into focus and it turns out they may not even be as different as some of the spices or ingredients you have at home already!

For example, in preparing my shopping list I came across some recurring ingredients that I looked up so that I’ll no longer be intimidated!

Now my language forte is Italian, but did you know that ras el hanout is just a phrase loosely meaning “Moroccan seasoning?”  Or that ghee is just a form of clarified butter? I can do that!  Or that channa dal and toor dal are just yellow and red lentils, respectively?  And most of us have already tried cous cous which is perhaps the most known of Moroccan grains (and it also happens to beat out brown rice for more protein and fiber but less calories per serving)!

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That’s not to say that your pantry and spice rack are already fully stocked with everything you’ll need.  Baby steps.  And with my regular rotations of mostly salads, Italian and Mexican meals my kids will eat, my pantry is definitely more mainstream than mysterious.  For example, I’m still not quite sure what fenugreek is, or what flavor asafoetida has.

But today, I aim to change all of that with a fun trip to a new spice, herb and tea store that just opened in our area that I’ve been wanting to try for several weeks.  Reading all about the Duchess’s upcoming trip to Morocco-and me running low on my favorite ginger tea-have given me the motivation to stock up on these flavors so that these delicious curries can become part of my rotation too!

It’s called the Spice and Tea Exchange and it just opened in our area in December so this was my first time in.  The owner, Joecyln, could not have been nicer.  She was really laid back and didn’t mind at all that I had two wild toddlers running around and wanting to touch each of the beautifully displayed glass jars.  She handed them a rubber tea infuser shaped like an animal and then pulled out a step-stool and put the kids to work pressing the button on the spice grinder.  Genius!

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This gave me the precious few extra minutes I needed to grab just the right spices I needed for my Moroccan recipes I’m going to share with y’all this week.  And I was so thrilled that I found everything I needed on my list in this one stop!

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Once the girls were done helping to print the labels for our wares, and I was done with my spices and adding a few exotic teas to my shopping bag, we were off!  I’m so grateful for the kid-friendly vibe and the chance Joecyln gave my girls to work a little behind the counter and see how everything comes together.  My older daughter was fascinated for the rest of the day with all of our different spices, alternating between jars to smell each one and pronounce these new names.  It was a great day and if you’re on the hunt for a hard to find spice, herb or a different kind of tea, give The Spice and Tea Exchange a try.  Taste the Tumeric Peach tea for your after dinner drink, it’s  unique and delicious!

 

 

 

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