For every Friday in my life, I’ve mostly eaten Couscous. Whether it is beef or chicken, I tend to develop this insatiable urge to devour a hearty portion of Couscous every 5th day of the week.
I am unsure if I’ve conditioned myself to crave Couscous or love the mix of textures and flavors, but if I don’t have this dish weekly, something feels off.
Some examples include a longing for Couscous on Fridays, desiring Bisara on a cold winter day, or wanting a chicken Tajin when you are camping with friends.
Although these scenarios differ in emotional variance, they all share the same feeling: An indomitable appetite for a Moroccan dish on certain days/events.
Your Brain Associates Moroccan Food with Positive Emotions
You are probably thinking “Doesn’t this special feeling apply to all food in general?” In all honesty, the answer is not as simple as it seems.
Food is a global language that everyone can speak. Every human on this planet has a story about food or an attachment to it.
So someone from Italy can write the same blog post titled “Why Italian Food is Special to You”, and it would resonate well (or unwell) with their audience.
This is mostly because of the way our brain associates food with early memories. Assuming you grew up in Morocco, You’ve most likely experienced tasting a Moroccan dish on a special positive occasion as a child.
Whether it’s eating a Plum Meat Tajine at a wedding or scarfing Chicken Seffa at a family reunion, Your brain most likely links the laughs and good moments experienced in those times with the food eaten. Kinda like a self-induced manipulation.
Add that to the general nostalgia we feel when tasting familiar food, and an unbreakable bond with Moroccan food is developed. However, this doesn’t imply that the association is only related to childhood memories.
It can be an attachment to any strong positive emotion regardless of when it happened. For example, I’ve developed a keen fondness for Cheese eggrolls (Also called Briwat or Nems) after suffering from Parosmia for 3 years.
Their simple taste profile and satisfying texture serve as a great replacement for when I’m craving savory treats but can’t deal with onions.
You Occasionally Have Moroccan Food
In marketing, there is a principle called the “Scarcity principle.” This concept entails that the scarcer something is, the more it becomes valuable. We can also find a similar concept in design, where the simpler and less crowded a logo is, the better it is.
I am a firm believer that we should have less of what we love. By depriving yourself of your favorite thing, your appreciation of said thing becomes deeper.
This is because we humans tend to depreciate things when we are exposed to them for prolonged periods.
The same can be said for our relationship with Moroccan food, where complex and deep dishes like Seffa, are eaten from time to time. Prolonged periods of not enjoying these foods allow our palettes to reset and appreciate those flavors once more.
As such, these dishes are kept out of our baseline taste palette and they genuinely spice up (pun intended) our taste buds when consumed.
If this wasn’t true, meaning we had these dishes every day, then our minds will get used to Seffa and the dish will become as stale as plain bread.
There is a deeper lesson here about learning how to value our surroundings. And how it can help break our normal routine even if temporarily, but this isn’t what you clicked for.
Everything Reminds You of Moroccan Food
The other day, I was catching up with a friend who has recently spent a few months in Japan (our conversation inspired this blog post). She mentioned that while Japanese food is everything she anticipated it to be, it does not compare to Moroccan food.
The flavors were unique and refreshing but they lacked notes that she was accustomed to. For instance, ramen broth packs serious refreshing and light flavors but lacks the punch of spices provided by Harira or Marqa.
Consequently, she would always crave authentic Moroccan food whenever she had other foods. Much like a loved ex that you can’t move on from, everything reminded her of Moroccan food.
If you were to break down the main flavors of Moroccan food then you would have a large group of taste profiles. From the Mediterranean’s reliance on olive oil and tomatoes to the earthy tones of Tropical cuisine, Moroccan cuisine has it all.
As such, you always reminded me of certain local dishes when having other foods. These constant reminders push you to crave Moroccan food and eat it.
Going back to my weekly couscous hunger, I have found that all of the arguments previously mentioned resonate well.
I fondly recall feasting on couscous with my family on summer days under the shade while the wind gently blows.
Moreover, the fact that I am limited to having couscous only on Fridays, gives me something to look forward to.
Finally, couscous is arguably one of the most flavor-varied dishes in Moroccan cuisine. The meat spice closely resembles a classic Tajine while the couscous’ texture imperfectly mimics short-grain fried rice.
It is no surprise that our relationship with food is a complex one. What was once something we base our existence on (hunting and food scarcity), is now we barely think of due to its abundance.
Like any amazing relationship, we shouldn’t take our partners for granted and occasionally remind them of why we love them in the first place. So the next time you attend a wedding, you can appreciate that serving of Bastilla just a little more.
PS: Chicken Bastilla > Fish Bastilla