“So instead of being a cheese you eat with lunchmeat, this is actually lunchmeat-flavored cheese product?”

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(Lunchmeat-cheese face — you’ll understand soon enough)

It’s been an eventful three weeks here in Rabat – from the medina to murderously crazy city streets (every stoplight contains a bit of green, right?), I’ve been slowly learning about Rabat-style survival. I haven’t immersed myself into Moroccan culture as I eventually plan to due to my English language-based internship and living situation. I often feel myself withdrawing, for a few hours, from an unfamiliar environment to a community that shares important parts of my cultural background.

It’s not so easy, though, to isolate myself food wise, and that’s a very good thing.

As good friends know (hey, Russell), food has a huge effect on my psyche. While great cuisine can have me soaring to the highest heights, I let bad food (or lack thereof) turn me into an angry, snarky zombie. In Rabat, I’ve found an incredible diversity of groceries: at midsized stores, I can purchase Lebanese pita, Laughing Cow cheese (La Vache Qui Rit, to people here) unrefrigerated eggs and European chocolate and candy. I’ve even found types of Haribo I’ve never seen before, like gummy teeth. (These are particularly comforting: since my German grandpa is known for popping his dentures out at the dinner table, the gummy teeth here really remind me of family.) I’ve even been able to find an American standard: peanut butter!

While the classically American peanut butter (or peanut butter crunchy, according to a Casablanca-based manufacturer) is stocked at most mid-sized markets here, one product remains elusive. Most people drink ultra pasteurized milk, an unnatural dairy product that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. (Probably due to witchcraft.) As such, it’s difficult, though not impossible, to find refrigerated milk at corner stores: a bit strange for someone from Wisconsin, but certainly not a huge loss.

Along with general happiness regarding food choices, I have had some… interesting experiences discovering new products. First, the good:

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This is the lovely 3isha marba allimoun – also known as:

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Aicha lemon confiture!

Sweet but slightly sour, it tastes almost exactly like lemon curd or Dumbledore’s favored lemon drops.

Lemon confiture is best served with Lebanese bread, and only Lebanese bread. (That’s an order.)

And now, on to the less favorable…

Spreadable cheese, smoked delicatessen flavor. Mmmm, lunchmeat. While initially and still startled by this product’s unique taste, I did not give up on consuming the whole thing. And really, it’s not bad with marinara sauce and pasta. And only with marinara sauce and pasta.

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That’s all for now, folks. Next week, we’ll immerse ourselves in some real culture by exploring Rabat’s Medina during daytime.

And for more Moroccan adventures, consider stopping by:

Nesting in the Necropolis: Birds and humans find peace at Rabat’s Chellah

From Rabat With Love: Settling into Morocco’s capital city

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