Saturday, July 19, 2008

Morocco: Day Eight: Moroccan Wedding


The wedding day, or more properly, the wedding reception day. Allegedly, the actual marriage paperwork signing (there is no religious ceremony, I believe) was done a few weeks ago, so I guess Fatima and Samir are already married. Today is a day for us to just be flexible and stay out of the way. The wedding chaos is very similar to Christmas with the Saia family. I love it because I'm not really responsible for much beside myself.

The women of the family drove to Casablanca, about 90 minutes away for six hours of hair and makeup. Tristan and Gabriel, a Belgian/Moroccan boy about his age were escorted to a local barber by Abla and Ghita. We didn't accompany him, so we're really curious what Tristan would be able to communicate to the barber about his desires. He got a good, normal haircut, but we heard later that he was trying to get the barber to give him a buzz cut, but Ghita wouldn't let the barber do it. Those two are a pretty good pair.

Jennifer and I walked to Acima, the local supermarket of the same chain we visited in Marrakesh. We were hoping to find Aromat, a spice blend used in Switzerland to season melted cheese dishes. The vast majority of spices in Morocco are sold loose by weight, so no luck on the aromat. We did manage to find some Fayrouz Poire soda,

some rotisserie chicken and thyme potato chips,

and some interesting fruit and chocolate cookies. It was all excellent, especially the chips. Interestingly, the locals thought we were crazy for walking "so far," all of 10-15 minutes to the store.

Most of the afternoon was pretty casual. I ended up getting bathed and dressed around 5:00, and that was way early. We went to the Choukailis' and hung out some more. Jennifer and Zoe were borrowing traditional Moroccan attire.

I went with the guys to a cafe for a coffee, then we came back and drank Chivas (and gin and wine) in the basement apartment. We had the impression the wedding started around 9:00 pm, but had come to realize the existence of MPT, Morrocan People Time, which is just like the extreme punctuality of White People Time, but just the opposite.

Sometime around 10:45, I think, Gerard and I caught a ride with a cousin to the wedding hall.

The band was already playing, Jennifer and the kids had gotten there too somehow, and the newlyweds arrived shortly.

At Moroccan weddings the bride is attended by several hired attendants (who are also not slaves) in this case, three. The bride entered the hall while all the women repeated this one chant (that we'd heard several times over the past few days) that ended with this most horrible "ulululululululululul" noise. Fatima, wearing gown #1, btw, was placed in this cupula or little gazebo thing that was carried on the shoulders of four traditionally-dressed Morrocan men (who turned out to also be some of the waiters) and paraded around the hall, accompanied by the band and a lot of clapping.

(picture removed)

Now I'll probably get a bit fuzzy on the details of the next parts, but do my best to recall everything. We were guided toward the tables which were surrounded by chairs and the salon wall of couches. The "king and queen" were seated on a kind of sofa in a raised side room off the main room. We at the tables had some bottled water and pistachios to snack on. Around 12:15 am they brought out the first main course; pastilla (pas-TEE-ya) بسطيلة which is a buttery phyllo dough pastry filled with chicken, honey, and a sweetened nut paste, probably from almonds. It sounds weird, but it was amazing. The pastilla on each table resembled a disc, maybe 14" in diameter and about 3" high, and decorated on top. We tore into it with our steely knives and bare hands, putting some onto our plates or directly into our mouths. It was fantastic. The beverage of choice to accompany this traditional dish was CocaCola. It seemed very out of place, but hey, whatever.

That was taken away and the top tablecloth removed. Around 1:00 am, the second main dish came out: lamb.

Each table scored half a lamb that was probably the weight of a good-sized holiday turkey. They were served on large platters surrounded by various cooked veggies. The lamb was eaten true pig pickin' style; you just tore off meat with your hand. There were small spice dishes with (maybe) cumin on one side and sea salt on the other. You'd grab a hunk of meat, dip it in a little of both seasonings and eat it. It was also fantastic, and not even the tiniest bit gamey or funky like lamb sometimes is.

Probably around 1:45 am the dessert came out: giant bowls of fruit.

Pretty normal stuff, but the quality was very good and it really hit the spot. I'm sure some hot mint tea was served at least once by now.

Also by now the bride had changed into at least her second gown,

maybe third,

and the groom, who had been wearing a nice western suit (western like "American", not like "cowboy"), was now wearing traditional Moroccan groom attire. The couple had a table set up for them in the middle of the main floor where they had done their eating. That had been removed, and now they were both hoisted on individual cupola/gazebo things and paraded around for a song. For the next few hours it was mostly dancing and gear changes for the couple. The band played all Moroccan music, and these guys were tight. The music was very syncopated and the (Moroccan) audience was clapping in time with the syncopation. It was a very impressive feat, and something there would be no possible way Americans (besides me) could do properly.

Cookies and more tea came and went. Around 4:30 am they brought out the wedding cake,
and Fatima was now in a traditional European/American wedding gown, and Samir in a different western suit.

As for the cake, it was spectacular. It had probably six separate levels, each composed of maybe 10 alternating layers of pastry and filling, and all wrapped in fondant. It tasted like a napoleon, or mille-feuille. Never had a cake like that.

After the cake? Soup! Harira, the traditional hot vegetable soup served with those strange-looking but delicious cookies. It's good soup, but at the end of the meal, and usually right before bedtime, I often don't have room, as was the case this time.

Around 5:00 am the party wrapped up, the couple departed in a clean, decorated Honda CRV, and the four of us, and four others, piled into a mid-sized car and drove the short distance to Shakir and Jalila's house. Fortunately, this was the end of the partying for the night. . . at our house anyway. We got to bed at 5:45 am.

(repost time 7/19)


Anonymous said...

on your way back from the wedding, did they drive around beaping their car horns?
I found that the last few weddings i had been envolved in included aimless car rides to prmarily let everyone else know that 1: theyre still awake and 2: that apparently there had been a wedding. I never questioned it. Just thought id ask as im not sure if this is just something my family does or is it "the done thing"
enjoyed the read.sab

The Roth Family said...

I don't recall the car horns, then again, I was pretty wiped out by that time and just ready to get some sleep. Of course with seven other people in the car, I probably couldn't hear much of anything.

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