1. In Seattle it is trendy to eat locally grown produce and therefore buy only the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Here in Fez, there is nothing available except food that is in season. The produce must come straight from the countryside to the souq, which makes for some pretty flavorful eating, if also a very short shelf-life. When I first arrived in September I was eating lots of fresh figs, melons and cucumbers. Now I have eggplant, plums and cauliflower almost every day, and today I bought three large pomegranates for 5 dirham (≈$0.60).
2. My brain registers small beautiful details like these when my eyes pass over them.
This is thanks to a very interesting walking tour/lecture with David Amster, ALIF’s director by day, restoration and preservation expert by night. Fez’s houses are traditionally built with bricks, mortared together with a mixture of lime and sand, called medluk, which allows the houses to breathe. The outer walls of the houses are covered with this medluk, sometimes carved or pressed with patterns and adornments and thus disproving the commonly-held belief that facades are unimportant to Fassis.
Fez is also embellished with zellij, that is, tile mosaics. This kind of zellij is hand cut with a chisel into tessellations like this one.
Notice the difference in quality between the upper zellij, which is made by chipping away parts of the glaze, and the lower, sloppier zellij.
3. I have friends that invite me to wonderful lunches. Last week I joined Roger, a fellow Fulbrighter at his house for Friday cous cous with his host family and spoke only in Darija. Then, this past Sunday was the best lunch I’ve had to date: Lillie worked all morning with her host family to make bastila, a sumptuous chicken/egg/almond mixture wrapped in layers of thin, homemade pastry sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. (Look out for a post on this that is sure to come on her food blog.)
4. Shopping is fun again. Yesterday Lillie and I went in search of workout pants for our all women’s aerobics class and came across the used clothing souq. People milled about as women sat by their clothes and other items displayed on blankets laid out on an open patch of land. Being the only non-Moroccans there, I pulled quite a helpful audience when I tried on a few used jellabas and eventually found one for 20 dhs.
5. Gone are the days of 90+°F weather.