K.S. Ramkumar, Arab News
Wednesday 29 September 2004
Last Update 29 September 2004 12:00 am
JEDDAH, 29 September 2004 — Moroccan cuisine is one of the finest in the world. Harira, the traditional garbanzo-and-noodle soup, is a good starter. Various couscous dishes, tajines (stewed meat or chicken with vegetables, served in a conical clay dish) and kababs (also called brouchettes) are among the most common items.
The list of Moroccan delights also includes some of the sought-after items like hout (a fish stew), mchoui (roast mutton) and djaja mahamara (chicken stuffed with almonds, raisins and couscous). Bastilla is pigeon cooked in dough with nuts and honey. Sweet tea served with mint leaves provides a fitting finale. Fresh-squeezed juices and milkshakes (almond and avocado among favorites) are among the refreshing drinks that accompany the main meal.
These are only a few of the items that the North African country’s food is known for. There are many more. Three chefs who have come from a Moroccan beach resort offer a wide and rich variety of their country’s cuisine at the 12-day food festival that opened at Albilad Hotel here last night.
Moroccan Consul General Mohamed Abdouh Aimane in his opening remarks highlighted the close bonds of his country with the Kingdom. With Saudi families shunning visits to the West, tourist-rich Morocco is becoming popular with them as was evident during the last vacation season.
“Aside from Morocco’s popular destinations, its rich variety of foods also tends to be a major attraction for Arab tourists,” a senior executive of Royal Air Maroc (RAM) said.
Both Mohamed Ismaili and Filali Mohamed of RAM said the airline operated weekly three services each from Jeddah and Riyadh and the load factor was at its peak during the last holiday season. “Our summer schedule usually includes a fourth flight from Riyadh,” he said.
Morocco is also looking for more Saudi investment in its various infrastructure projects. “They already have a significant investment in the country’s real estate, especially tourist-related projects like hotels, apartments and recreation and leisure centers,” Ismaili said.
Morocco’s tourism industry is to rely increasingly on Arab and other international investors to reach its ambitious goal of 10 million visitors by 2010. It has nearly two-dozen projects under way that will add several thousand additional beds by the end of 2004.
Albilad Hotel General Manager Yousuf Omar Ageel said the current festival was in line with the hotel’s plan to organize food festivals of different countries from time to time.
“We agreed to host this event after we were convinced that food connoisseurs have been looking forward to authentic cuisine prepared by specialist chefs,” he said and introduced three chefs who have been specially flown in for the event. Rudolf C. Steiger, food and beverage manager at the hotel, spoke about the rich food variety the North African country offered.