Saturday, August 22, 2009

Maghrebian showdown: Morocco vs. Tunisia

Hello friends! Due to a sad lack of WiFi, I wasn't able to blog about Morocco while actually in Morocco. I've been home for about a week now, battling lingering intestinal problems (dr's verdict: not a parasite! yay) and intellectual, post-travel burnout, but I'm about ready to get back up on that blogging horse. Overall, Morocco was a blast, especially because I got to share it with my Mom (who also conveniently footed the bill). I was really surprised at how different from Tunisia it was, though...both in its Arabic and its culture. It felt much more "foreign" than Tunisia, much less Western, and also much less-developed. Its people were equally as welcoming, though, and its culture almost richer. I'll be posting pictures and descriptions over the next few days, but because I'm a total nerd, here's a basic comparison chart to tide you over....

I pretty much just wrote things as they came to my mind, and as you'll see, some are more significant than others. The bolded column indicates my favorite when I had a preference.



Fresh squeezed orange juice

Fruit smoothie “cocktails”

Ceremonial, yellowish mint tea, poured from a silver teapot at a high height into ornate glasses

Often oversteeped, brownish mint tea, usually kept in an industrial-style water boiler…but it often comes with pinenuts

Shisha illegal at cafés


Comparative sampling of dialect: Jooj, bzehf, bshal? (two, a lot, how much?)

Zooz, barsha, bu qaddesh? (two, a lot, how much?)

Coffee with cinnamon

Coffee Arabiya with too much sugar

Tajine= a sort of rich stew, made with onions and either a meat (beef and prunes, or chicken and almonds) or vegetables

Tajine= a sort of quiche-type thing, made with egg, potato and spinach. This is a hard call for preference, but I’m gonna go with Tunisia, simply b/c Moroccan tajine is too dang heavy of a meal to eat during the summer.


Bigger cous-cous grains (easier to eat AND less messy)

Smaller cous-cous grains (drier and more delicious)

Breakfast: yogurt, berber pancakes (baghreer and Msemin) and corncakes

Breakfast: French pasteries, bread with fig or apricot preserves

Spanish and hilariously red-faced, overheated British tourists

French tourists

Locals don’t use silverware; scoop their food with taboona flat bread

Locals don’t use silverware; scoop their food with French baguette

Toilet paper! And flushable.

Toilet hoses and BYO TP, non-flushable

Street food: kebabs, or really disgusting sandwhiches with processed meat, rice, and….ketchup?

Street food: delicious sandwiches with fresh vegetables and fries, harissa or salata mushwiya for a dressing, and your choice of tuna, chicken, schwarma, kefta, tajine, omlette, merguez….all for dirt cheap!

Better carpets—variety, color and quality

Better jewelry souks—quality, craftsmanship, prices

More elaborate mosaics and fountains

Cooler painted doors and cast iron gates/windows

Better ceramic tiles

Better ceramic bowls/platters

“Salad”—rice with peas, carrots and peppers

Salad Moroccaine—tomato, onion and hard boiled egg

Salad Mshwiya—“burned” peppers and tomatoes, puréed with harissa OR

Salad Tunsiya—onions, tomato, cucumber and parsley in a lemon vinagrette

Seemingly efficient and well-loved King, with a castle in every major city. I would need more time to scope out the situation fully, but YouTube and Gmail both function without any problems.

Seemingly resented and corrupt “President,” with a well-guarded house in every major city. YouTube and many other sites are blocked, internet is screened, and freedom of speech/press in general is questionable.

French spoken by pretty much all people, although it still correlated with education. English and Spanish also widely spoken.

French spoken by most people, but a definite trend of more educated = better French. Italian and German also fairly widely spoken.


  1. You probably didn't wash your hands before eating, which is the single most common cause of travellers getting sick.

  2. Travel sickness is always horrible. Hope you're feeling better. Maybe you can visit Southland next? ;)

  3. hmmm breakfast in tunisia depends on your location. @ the stufsters? breakfast = almost moldy fruit, definitely moldy bread, gnutella, and yogurt. how did we survive?!?