I’ll freely admit I was probably old beyond my years, but with the benefit of hindsight I can say I was still fairly clueless in many ways. Or perhaps I just thought I was invincible, like every 21 year old.
I was on my big world adventure and I was finding Europe too damned cold, so my bestie and I thought we’d head on down to Morocco to seek some winter sunshine, and good hash. I used to be a fairly enthusiastic smoker in my early twenties and I’d heard fabulous reports of the Moroccan produce, namely from my Dad, who may have also been enthusiastic whilst in the sunny climes of Northern Africa.
In many countries where the locals try to rip you off, I’ve always felt it was done in fairly good humor. Just a little good-natured grifting, shall we say. The thing I found about Morocco was there was often a sense of malice involved. I felt threatened on more than one occasion and there was an electric zing of danger in the air. I tried to take a photo of a dirty little urchin child and a man came yelling and threatening me with his fists…
‘Don’t photograph this child. Take pictures of the nice children’ he cried with anger.
Our guidebook said ‘if a local family invites you to dinner, go, and see how the locals live’, so when we were invited to stay with a family we jumped at the chance. The first night was magical. They sang a traditional song, we sang Alanis Morissette. They hennaed our hands for an exorbitant fee and sent us to a local bathhouse where I was scrubbed head to foot by a woman with pendulous bosoms that slapped me around the head as she scrubbed away my desert grime.
The ‘Uncle’ had organised a block of hashish for us, so we giggled our way through the evening.
Fun was had by all.
Firstly, I’ll admit that the dope was great, so we were not thinking wisely.
Secondly, whenever we were asked for cash for stuff we handed it over. Money for dinner, money for this, money for that. It seemed ok, until suddenly – it didn’t.
Then thirdly, an unidentified nocturnal visitor in my sleep frightened the bejesus out of us so when ‘Uncle’ suggested we leave Fez and head off to his hash farm at the base of the Atlas Mountains we jumped at the chance.
What a pair of boobs.
No one knew where we were or where we were going. We sweet, young fools thought it sounded like a great adventure.
It was like stepping into Twin Peaks.
There was a laughing toothless dwarf, someone from the compound followed us every time we tried to go for a walk, and people would walk into our room whenever we tried to have a moment’s privacy.
I’d say we were fairly interesting creatures for the locals, but being as our paranoia had kicked in royally by, now nothing felt right, and everything had a David Lynch filter.
Anyway, after a sleepless night we made a daring early morning escape. No idea where we were going just found a road that looked slightly less like a dirt track and got on the first bus, loaded with chickens and locals headed god knew where. Thankfully, it took us back to Fez.
I look back now and thing how stupid we were. Crazy fools.
Bloody great memories though.
I’ll be terrified when my kids decide to travel. It’s inevitable, coming from two traveling parents… and don’t even talk to me about educating them about drugs. I just hope they have more of Mister H’s genes than mine, when it comes to that matter. He was much more controlled and sensible than I.
This recipe is inspired by my Moroccan adventure.
Yield - 2 adults and two toddlers
What you will need :
- 600g firm white fish (ie blue eye, barramundi)
- A good handful of parsley leaves
- a good handful of coriander, including stalks
- juice of half a lemon
- one clove garlic
- a teaspoon of cumin
- a fat pinch salt
- a glug of olive oil
- 2 tomatoes, chopped into wedges
- 1 roast capsicum, jarred or home roasted, seeds removed, cut into chunks
- 6 green olives, smashed to remove pips
- 1 cup cous cous
- a handful of chopped coriander
- some roasted pistachios
- 1/2 a preserved lemon
What you will need to do :
Cut your fish into large chunks. Place into a baking dish large enough to house it all.
Throw your parsley, coriander, garlic, lemon juice, salt, cumin and olive oil into a little food processor or mortar and pestle and smash it all together.
Coat your fish and leave to marinate for an hour or so.
Preheat oven to 200C.
Add chopped tomato and roast capsicum and place around the fish. Chuck your smashed olives on top and cover with foil and stick in the oven for about 20 mins or until fish is just cooked through.
Meanwhile, cook your cous cous according to packet instructions. Add a dollop of butter to it when you’re at the fluffing stage. Add chopped roasted pistachios, preserved lemon (flesh removed, skin only), and remaining handful of coriander. I also liked to add a good pinch of lemon pepper, but you can season however you like.
Just stay away from hash.
Drugs are bad, m’kay?