5 things i am loving about fez – ٥ أشياء أحب في فاس

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).

After class today I cracked one open, pulled out all the seeds into a bowl and ate them with a spoon like cereal, feeling like some decadent, out-of-touch queen.

2. My brain registers small beautiful details like these when my eyes pass over them.


note the detail above arch



note the detail around windows


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.)


Marwa, Lillie's host niece


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.


Lillie at the souq with 1 dhm cotton candy on a twig


5. Gone are the days of 90+°F weather.


The rains have come to Fez


About Laura McAdams

Laura McAdams is a Master’s student at University of Pennsylvania studying International Educational Development. Her experience in the MENA region includes 15 months as a Fulbright student researcher to Fez and Ifrane, Morocco in 2010 and 2011. Her project was interested in understanding the disconnect between the policies of technology usage in education and the reality of how these policies unfold in the classroom. Summer 2012 she returned to the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco to work with a women’s weaving cooperative. She is excited to learn more about other countries in the MENA region and issues involving education policy and reform, technology usage in curriculums and gender equality in education. One of Laura’s lifelong goals is to one day be able to sit down and leisurely read a newspaper in Arabic.
This entry was posted in Fulbright Student Research in Morocco, 2010-2011, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 5 things i am loving about fez – ٥ أشياء أحب في فاس

  1. Cindy Greiman says:

    Laura – I’m enjoying reading your blog, and love hearing about your and Lillie’s experiences! Thanks for posting…

    Cindy Greiman (Lillie’s mom)

  2. James Cameron says:

    You DO have a very good eye for detail, Laura. Great posts.

  3. Love the use of “tessellation”. Not sure I’ve heard that since middle school. Such a great word.

    Very amused by the workout pants/aerobics class. Even in Morrocco Laurs you seek out the aerobics! Good for you!

    Still so excited to visit.

    P.S. I’m losing my job in August (Lab is finally moving to San Diego). So maybe I’ll wait and come then and just spend a month with you! haha. You never know….

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