“I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook.” Anthony Bourdain
To get under the skin of a country, try getting busy in the kitchen when you’re there. Local food can teach you much about a society and its traditions; learn to cook a signature dish or two and you also have a souvenir that you can easily recreate at home. After all, what better way to evoke the memories of a trip than with the same mouth-watering smells that wafted through the markets and restaurants you visited?
Morocco – and Marrakesh in particular – is a perfect destination for cookery classes. Its cuisine is rich, both in terms of history and the breadth of ingredients. At root Marrakeshi cuisine is Berber in origin, and flavoured with a host of spices from the Indian subcontinent, particularly cumin, cinnamon and ginger. By taking a class, you’ll learn not only how to identify the quality of these spices, but how to use them effectively – and you’ll be told repeatedly that couscous is most definitely not something you make in ten minutes from a bag.
If you want to learn to cook in Marrakesh, you’ll need to decide between a cookery school, where you’ll be taught at a workstation as part of a larger group, or a private class, a more intimate and personalised affair, usually in the kitchen of a riad. The cookery schools are a good option if you want something more social and not too intense; the private classes are better if you want some hands-on tuition and are keen to try out the intricacies of particular dishes.