After our first day of hand stamping leather for our new products, we went back to our work station in the fondouk to make even more leather tags. Although this part of developing LOOTB products is very time consuming, hand stamping the unique numbers into the leather is an essential part of Life Out of the Box. Therefore, we just put our heads down and put the time into making each one so that customers can look up that number on our website to see the child that was given school supplies on their behalf.
Hours went by as we hammered away and all of the sudden it was lunch time. Aziz asked Quinn if she could watch over his shop while we searched through the souk to find the ingredients for a special lunch that he wanted to prepare for us.
Aziz and I headed straight to the vegetable market. He grabbed handfuls of peas, onions, carrots and more. He passed all of the vegetables to the vendor who placed it on the scale and then used nuts and bolts to distinguish the weight. The transaction was so simple: no computers, no batteries, no credit cards. We paid him and then headed to the butcher.
Butchers in Marrakech are like nothing I have seen anywhere else. There’s various carcass of different animals hanging from a hook out front of each butcher shop. You can see every part of the animal and are able to pick out exactly the cut that you desire. Aziz picked out the lamb and the cut he wanted, paid the man and we were off to the spice shop.
Morocco is the spice capital, so each spice shop is filled with mounds of colorful spices from cumin, to chile and saffron. He explained in arabic the dish he was planning on cooking, then the spice man grabbed a pinch of seven different spices into a newspaper.
The vendor folded the newspaper up and Aziz handed him one dirham (12.5 cents). With all of our unique ingredients in hand, we headed back to Quinn. I had no idea what dish he was planning to cook, but I couldn’t wait to find out.
We got back to Quinn who was hammering away on our little wooden table. She put the tools and leather away to assist with making lunch. We cut, prepared and placed the meat and the vegetables in a very precise order onto a clay dish called a tajine.
The point of the cone shaped clay tajine is to the cook the meat and vegetables that are on the bottom while steaming the vegetables that are placed on top. He turned on his little gas tank and we were cooking–we had no idea what we were in for.
Two and a half hours later Aziz turned off the gas, then purchased two loafs of freshly baked bread and a big glass bottle of Coca-Cola from the corner store near by. As he removed the top, hot steam blew into our faces and our mouths began to water.
The aroma of the blended spices was unlike anything either of us had ever smelt before. He handed us the loaf and demonstrated how to eat it like the locals by using the bread to pinch the meal from the tajine. It took a few tries, but we finally got the hang of it and enjoyed every single bite.
Eating with Aziz that chilly afternoon was one of the coolest experiences so far in Marrakech for us. It was the best meal we’ve ever had here and it wasn’t in a fancy restaurant. It was an experience that we couldn’t even pay for. This is the kind of stuff that only occurs when you truly get out and explore the world–when you truly get out of the box. This is the kind of thing we live Life Out of the Box for.