Originally posted by NancyPeter
In my humble opinion, I believe Moroccan food would be more Mid-Eastern. That country, while it is on the African continent, seems to be set apart food-wise!
Input on this from anyone else?
Having lived in Morocco, the Middle East, India, et al for several years, let me add a bit here. NP and Elise, you are both on the right track here.
Although Morocco is geographically African it is historically and culturally Muslim and its dietary rules have followed Islamic tenets for the past 1200 years. This area of Muslim North Africa is known as the Mahgrib and encompasses Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Egypt; although western geographers always want to lump Egypt into their Middle East pigeonhole, it is regarded as one of the [western] provinces of the Muslim world that extended to the gates of France until Roland and the last good frog army
pushed them back to Spain, it wasn't until 1492 that Ferdinand and Isabella finally expelled the last of the Moors from Spain proper. Although Islam spread to the Sudan, Chad, and central Africa, the cuisine there is more "African", as are the peoples there, racially and ethnically as opposed to the fairer skinned and Mediterranean denizens of the Mahgrib.
Although many Moroccan dishes are similar to Middle Eastern dishes, there are regional favorites such as couscous and paella, the latter reflects the mingled culinary traditions of the Moors with both Spanish and Moroccan roots (don't look now folks, but it wasn't always "Spain" on the map...). Moroccans have the advantage of bordering on both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, so fish has been a part of the diet for the coastal areas for centuries, as it has been for other Muslim countries in the Middle East which front on either the Mediterranean or Indian Ocean (as well as the major rivers that many historic Middle Eastern cities are built on). With the advent of the 20th century and refrigerated transport, seafood has become more readily available in the many inland cities, in the East as well as the West.
Tap on "Moroccan recipes" on Google and you'll find many wonderful dishes. Although their English name translations sound less fanciful than their exotic native names, the titles reflect the unique blend of Mediterranean and traditional Muslim fare: Peasant Pancakes, Chicken and Olives, Moroccan Chicken, Moroccan Lamb with Apricots, Moroccan Meatball Stew, Orange Salad, and Moroccan Eggplant...
But if you asked me what Moroccan dish I miss the most (that I can't get in neighboring cities), it's the street vendor/casbah stall stuff: the ubiquitous glasses of sticky sweet hot mint tea with bees circling the glass and the smoky little briquettes of spicy lamb grilled on tiny grills and served with warm fresh sheets of bread.
Interestingly, when the United States first became a nation over 200 years ago, the first country in the world to officially recognize our sovereignty was the kingdom of Morocco....surprisingly, we still have fairly good ties with them to this day.