A Bowlful of Moroccan Memories

I just spent a very memorable few weeks road tripping around Morocco.

It’s truly a beautiful country from its undulating sand dunes in the Sahara, striking mountains and dramatic gorges studded with Berber villages, and coastlines dotted with sardine fishing boats...

...to its endless groves of olive, pomegranate and orange trees, lush valleys lined with date palms and deep-red kasbahs, and imperial cities with their ancient medinas and ornate riads.

Sunset Camel trek in the sahara desert

Sunset Camel trek in the sahara desert

Local Food Scene
One of my favorite things about traveling is learning about the local food scene, from what’s growing in the fields to what’s cooking in the kitchen. I love talking to locals about what they eat and how they make it (and they love to tell me!).

In Morocco, I was really struck by the simplicity of their breakfast (compared to, say, a green smoothie loaded with a dozen different ingredients).

Numerous Moroccans shared that their typical morning meal consists of tearing pieces off a flat, round, crusty loaf of wheat bread then dipping them in olive oil. This is accompanied by the country’s most beloved beverage, mint tea.

They might also eat bissara, a hearty yet simple soup made with dried fava beans or sometimes green split peas. It’s often topped with a heavy drizzle of olive oil and spices, like cumin, paprika or cayenne.

Bissara was one of my favorite Moroccan dishes. I bought it from a street vendor for around 50 cents. It was deeply nourishing and satisfying.

My first bowl of bissara made by a street vendor in fez.

My first bowl of bissara made by a street vendor in fez.

Soup for Breakfast
I love the idea of a belly-warming soup for breakfast, especially on cold mornings (which occur pretty much year-round in San Francisco!).

While not common in the U.S., many countries eat soup for breakfast, from miso soup in Japan and pho in Vietnam to mohinga in Myanmar.

Eating soup for breakfast is actually something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. I’ve perused recipes, but nothing tempted my early morning taste buds—until now.

Super Simple, Super Healthy
What I love about bissara is that it’s super simple (and dirt cheap) to make—the recipes my Moroccan friends shared contained only three or four ingredients. Plus, it’s packed with healthy protein, fat and fiber, which will keep you going all morning long.

Now that I’ve recovered from my jetlag, I’m going to cook up a big pot this weekend.

I’ve found a variety of bissara (or bessara) recipes online, some more elaborate than others. I’m planning to start with this one. It includes more seasoning than the basic recipes I learned in Morocco, however, I’m a fan of bold flavors.

Not only will bissara be a hearty, healthy start to my day, it will also be a delicious reminder of my time spent in Morocco.