Morocco | A wedding and entrails

So I was invited to a village wedding.

To begin, there was having to buy a kaftan / jalaba to wear, since my one pair of jeans and leather jacket was declared highly inappropriate for the occasion.  Larbi, my host, predictably, insisted on escorting me - fastidious in his belief that unless he sticks to me like a limpet, I might come to harm. So, guiltily irritated and vaguely embarrassed, I just grabbed the first garment that seemed remotely wearable, to put an end the ordeal of him clung to my side.. I soon realised the shapeless shifts all look identical anyway.

 I chose a black affair (of course, being a Londoner at heart), with lime embroidery around the d├ęcolletage. A bargain at 60Dh. It ties up around the waist, from the inside,  which is just as well, as my ample chest just about made the end of the string!! Arabian women are tiny. It's loose fitting and cool but I discovered to my horror it's completely transparent when I stand against the light (cue Lady Di's famous kindergarten picture). I tried therefore, to keep to the dark side, mostly.

 Kitted out in the all black Jalaba, paired with my knee- high, very black motocross boots, I was frog-marched by Larbi to the wedding, looking like a clash-cultured apparition of arabian-emo-goth.

 Yes. We walked. Its kind of not far, said Larbi... across the dirt road, round the Mosque, then down the hill along the donkey track then down the ditch, jump over some hindi (cactus, for those who don't speak Berber) and then a little walk up a steep incline... then a little bit further, still further, still further ... still further and then you are there.

 This pleasant little walk, took place in temperatures hitting 43 degrees - a lovely summer's day then. Thank god for the kaftan: its thin material and generous proportions, was relatively cool. Still, by the time we arrived, I felt (and probably looked) like flaming roasted chicken, my red hair adding to the overall effect. My feet where lamenting my hardcore taste in shoes, feeling decidedly wimpy and limp.

 The house was pretty. Much what I expected by now, lush gardens in the courtyard, bright blue paint, white, thick walls. This courtyard, however, was covered with an enormous, decoratively embroidered green and red tent, lighting the whole place in garish hues of deep red and purple.

 A gaggle of old women did the usual fussing at my arrival and then I was seated. They talked and pointed a lot at my boots. Clucking and tutting. Larbi just laughed at my questioning look and didn't bother to translate. I presume their comments were not fit for translation.

 All went well until food was served: platters of ... meat were brought out to the table and enormous baskets (at least a meter wide and half as high) full of ghobs. (bread, for those who don't speak Berber)

 It was only when the platter of food was placed on the table, that I recognised the mangled shapes. Horror chilled my bones - it was the entrails and brown ucky, fly infested things that I saw hanging outside the butchers' shops... a bit like grey, dirty towels that were dragged through the shit and hung up to dry.

 The smell was... rich. Not completely unpleasant, mind. I would say, like a pile of fresh cow pooh. You know - that earthy, almost sweet smell? Very, very reminiscent of my uncle's farm and, well, piles of warm cow dung.

 In for a penny, in for a pound, I thought. I checked if anyone batted an eyelid, but the only action was tens of hands eagerly breaking bread, hurried mumbles of Bism'Allah and then the lip smacking, enjoyment started.

 I followed suit, my stomache lurching somewhere between my throat and my knees... I broke the tiniest of bread crumbs and soaked it gingerly in the rich sauce:

 The taste was... meaty. And... well, pooh like. (Not that I have ever TASTED pooh, but you know, it tastes of what pooh smells like) but not the UNPLEASANT pooh. Just the kind of clean cow grass pooh.

 I was morbidly fascinated by the shapes floating in the sauce. There were those dark brown bits, with honeycomb structure... and then some meaty ribbon bits... and some bits that looked like meat knots.

 Glancing over my shoulder I saw something which, if I hadn't been Morrocanised by now, would have struck me as awfully macabre: around a tiny little table, about ten kids were jostling, chatting away like little grown-ups and steaming into an equally big platter of entrails, meat juices running down their chins and lips smacking...

 Echoes of Lord of the Flies flashed through my mind.

 Anyway. I survived it, ate my fill, enjoyed it and felt disgustingly smug for being so utterly worldly and culturally woke.


 As an afterthought: the smell of cow dung stayed with me for several hours afterwards, soaked into my fingers from the juice. No amount of scrubbing seemed to completely clear the clinging notes of shit. Maybe one needs to fondle a long, smoking kief pipe to replace the odor completely.