Eating Cow Foot Stew in Tnine Market, Ourika Valley, Morocco
One Monday morning in late 2012, we left the Casbah Omar in Morocco’s Ourika Valley to go to the Tnine (which means Monday in Arabic) Market. Markets are one of the best ways to gain entrée to a community: you see what people are growing, buying and eating – most importantly, you see people. At the Monday market, we found doctors performing medicine using techniques I’d never seen before, barbers cutting hair, exuberantly dressed men vending water in small cups, and many people selling and preparing food. Walking by a small, one-room building with smoke coming out the door, I stopped our guide, Youseff Kalfaoui of Access Trips, and asked what was being cooked in the big metal pot. “Cow foot stew,” Kalfaoui said, “Want to try some?” Of course I did! Inside, I paid about a buck for a metal bowl filled with the stew, some French bread (a remnant of former colonialists in this country) and a cup of tea. The big, gregarious man at the metal pot seemed very happy to be feeding people. The place was packed. The stew was almost gelatinous, and if it were not so hot, I’m guessing it would congeal into a solid mass; there was a little meat in there, some bone, and chickpeas. The spicing was light, and the bread was the primary eating utensil. The stew was good, rich and substantial; better still was a rare opportunity to hang with the locals, who seemed to accept my gringo-ness though they were clearly amused at my enthusiasm for their humble breakfast.