Monday, May 6, 2013

Living Below the Line... Moroccan Style

This week, thousands of young Australians will be part of the Oaktree Foundation's "Live Below the Line" campaign. In English, this means that they can only spend $2 per day on food, in order to raise money and awareness of extreme poverty. And for a passionate foodie like me who has no qualms about spending $20 on breakfast alone, the whole concept of Living Below the Line, quite frankly, has always scared the crap out of me.

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Figure 1: Kasbah

But this afternoon I found myself in Morocco with some spare time to kill, so I left my hostel and hit the streets of Marrakesh with just 8 dirhams (equal to $1) in my pocket.


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Figure 2: Charmoula sole and fresh tomato cous cous with grilled eggplant 

Somehow, I managed to put this meal together with those 8 dirhams, in just under 30 minutes. And I've never even cooked couscous before! Although I can't take all the credit - the lovely Samir who works at my hostel gave me a hand cooking the couscous, and also put out the fire I started in the kitchen. 

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Figure 3: My assortment of ingredients, featuring my new camel-skin bag

And if you don't believe me (about spending only $1, not the fire), here's a breakdown of my ingredients:
  • Couscous: 2 dirhams, bought at a small grocery store in the Kasbah district
  • Fried sole: 2 dirhams, from a stall at the Marrakech souk
  • Prawns: For free because I said "thank you" in Arabic to the guy who sold me said fried sole
  • Tomato and eggplant: 4 dirhams, from the fresh vegetable stall outside my hostel 

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Figure 4: Moroccan spices

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Figure 5: Figs, dates and other dried fruits

And just in case you're wondering: no, I did not use any oil or salt; no, I did not buy a meal and pass it off as my own; and yes, it actually tasted good. The fried sole had a strong taste and was extremely salty when eaten on its own, so I decided to break it up and mix it with the couscous to give it some flavour. It worked a treat! And the eggplant didn't need any oil because it's already quite moist when you grill it on a hot pan.

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Figure 6: Grilled eggplant

So although I'm not able to do the full week of Live Below the Line, I wish all of you guys participating the best of luck. The Oaktree Foundation is a pretty amazing organisation of young Australians. You can learn more about their cause on their website here.

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Figure 7: Djemaa El-Fnaa by night

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