Sunday, September 17, 2017

natural colors

This is a hanging camel head. I was taken aback at first... and then I was just focused on how tall the crown of its head is.

The theme of Fez was colors. Colors everywhere. 
And the goal of the day was to sell, sell, sell. Which is convenient because my dad's favorite pastime is to buy, buy, buy.
We started at a pottery co-op where they took us through the steps of wheel throwing, chiseling, metal working, and painting the ceramics. The detail is mind blowing. The concentration is unfathomable... for someone like me who's prone to backaches.
Their thing is gray clay, which has iron and magnesium, as opposed to terra cotta, which is made up of lead and salt. Green is from copper oxide and mint, and blue is from indigo.

We were led into the old medina, where each alley was dedicated to one trade. That's how you know it's for locals, we're told. And in the food alley, there were those pastilla stands again! But more elaborate because now they were spreading the dough over a hot dome shape. Like if you took a flat top and balled it up. It was like one of those orbs that shocks you. That I could touch it with both hands, and my hair would stand up. No time again to stop to ask for une photo so I found one here.
We wove into the textiles alley where at first I thought people were doing laundry in a public well... but they were washing bundles of dyed wool. 
Blinded by intricately stamped bronze plates and silver alloy tea pots in the alleyway dedicated to metal where the man also taught us about the importance of mothers.
Onwards to the largest tannery in Northern Morocco where they handed each of us a mint sprig to prepare for the rough smells ahead.
But I was too mesmerized by the colors to let it bother me (that much).
The process begins with stripping the hides of hair in the white vats of pigeon poop and bleach. Can't wait to put that on your body, huh? Just kidding... it's animal skin - who cares how it's processed at that point?
Green from mint, blue from indigo, orange from henna, yellow from turmeric and pomegranate peels,  red from poppy flower, brown from cedar, and black from mascara. It's like overlooking a giant watercolor palette. 

More colors at lunch in the form of warm and cold salads. Soupy warm lentils were probably the best I've ever had... wish I spent more time thinking about the flavors. Potatoes, shredded beets, eggplant and roasted pepper mush (in a good way), carrots, green beans, zucchini. And olives on olives of course.
Of course I had to get a pastilla, which was remarkably filling for its size - though it was probably mostly thanks to the salads.
Unexpected mix of dessert and meal.. or rather, elements of dessert sprinkled into my meal. Chicken... and cinnamon? Wrapped up in the flakey layers of phyllo. I've always been a fan of sweet and savory. Fruit with fish, honey with meat, raisins in things. But I think my issue was that my tongue and brain couldn't decide if I was eating a sweet and savory meal or a dessert with chicken in it. I think if I were to attempt this at home, I'd leave out the cinnamon.
I think half of the effect was due to the plates. Who knew patterned shades of blue could make food look so colorful? My greatest discovery in adulthood is the magic of a good plate or bowl.

Did you know you can make silk from plants? Because I didn't until Issmail pointed out the flowering agave plants on our drive to Volubilis. I couldn't visualize what he was claiming, so I reserved faith until I was standing in front of a man working away on a giant loom and a wall of colorful table cloths. Adulthood is really really wanting a pretty tablecloth.
But it's not just silk, and it's not just tablecloths. They dressed baby brother in a cotton kaftan - perfect for staying cool in the Sahara. They dressed me and the rest of the fam too, but I'm gonna keep that picture to myself.

Even the street meats were colorful. Look at this beautiful palette of grayish beige, raspberry red, and chocolate brown...
I got five skewers, one of each, including chicken as well as its heart. To be quite honest, I'm not totally aware of what I ordered. But it was all grilled and stuffed in a bread pocket, so I could take it back and eat it in the hotel bed.

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