This is what part of our trip has been about, to spend Christmas in Morocco. We are in a fabulous setting in the Sahara Desert, a place we truly love. We are with friends and it is hot …..but doesn’t feel remotely like Christmas. We are missing our family and friends at home, the grandchildren ripping paper off presents and then spending hours playing with the paper! So we keep ourselves busy and opt to do some shopping for our joint Christmas lunch.
Veggie shop no.2 in Merzouga and this time we are charged a much better price. We’ve decided on a menu of rotisseried lamb legs which we are going to do on our Grizzly rotisserie, a veggie salad (fresh peas & turnip greens dressed with olive oil, dill & fresh lemon juice) and pan roast potatoes as well as some oven roast potatoes, tzatziki and roast root veggies that Andrea’s preparing. Elizabeth and Wayne from Australia, travelling in their MAN truck conversion are due in tomorrow so we’re buying for them as well. It’s all coming together and we are rather looking forward to meeting them and having some good food to eat.
I haggle with the butcher (via another interpreter who happens to be having some tea close by) over the price of the 2 hind quarters of lamb that the butcher is a bit reluctant to sell on their own, leaving him with the shoulders to flog. But we finally settle on the price of MAD440 for 1/2 of a back end of lamb leaving us with nearly 1.5kgs for planned tagines on Tuesday night for our christmas eve meal and to welcome the World Roamers to the camp, and 5kgs of legs to rotisserie for christmas day lunch. Once costed out, it’s MAD150 per couple or €7.50 each for what turns out to be 4 days worth of food (the leftovers made a massive pot full of harira for Boxing Day supper ……with more leftovers!). #ChuffedToBits
Later that afternoon, Elizabeth and Wayne arrived in their overland truck and after introductions we go for a tour and it leaves us drooling. Underfloor heating AND a washing machine/dryer combo, sigh, we can only dream. What an amazing conversion! And after that, it’s cracking open a little alcohol and getting to know one another.
To close off the day, another sunset walk into the dunes, just a few more drinks and a slice of Date & Banana cake. Life is good.
There’s a full day ahead of us today mostly made up of cooking but in between some relaxing, a boules competition and a bit of drinking – just a tad, mind!
By mid morning, the shortcrust mince pies are in the tin getting ready for a quick bake tomorrow and the homemade christmas pud ready for a steam. The lamb for the tagine is out of my IPDUO having been pre-cooked and is now ready to go into the tagines for the final cook over fire (this is just to make our lives a bit easier!). I had a moment of near hysteria when I went to collect the lamb legs joint from the campsite fridge (which in translation became a freezer!) and they were rock hard but, thank goodness, we have plenty of time for these to defrost safely in the cool of Kaya’s aircon, phew!
Time to get the tagines on and sit down with feet up and sip on a well-earned G&T.
Food prep begins fairly early after our msemen breakfast. Lamb legs are poked, slit and stuffed with salt and garlic and rosemary slivers. Peas and turnip greens cooked and dressed and potatoes cooked twice ready for another fry just before serving. Meanwhile the others are off foraging wood for the firepit (dead trees are being dragged in from the desert) and cut to size with Wayno’s electric saw which he is christening with it’s first use.
The firepit is dug and prepared, the Grizzly spit prepared with the lamb legs joint and as the coals settle down in a white hot layer, at last the lamb is gently turning over the fire.
Another boules competition gets underway outside as cold beers and wine are sipped and our smoked salmon (kept for a special occasion! and here it is) served as our lunch starter on rye bread. Now it feels like Christmas!
The last hour countdown is underway as we all finish off the veggies, roast potatoes, salads, sauces and gravy and it’s time to sit down and eat. No hats or crackers today but all the other elements are there with great company, good food, a little alcohol and lots of good wishes…and a tin of Quality Street from Elizabeth and Wayne.
Merry Christmas everyone!!! And love and hugs & kisses to all our family and friends back home – you are in our thoughts.
A late start, another boules competition, a bit more wine and beer and a walk up the dunes into the desert for a possible sunset. It’s been a clear day so the sun sinks down behind the hills neatly and quickly leaving “spectacular” for another day.
The temperature has dropped suddenly as we all retire to Elizabeth and Wayne’s truck (they have underfloor heating and space for 6!) for a nourishing bowl of harira, some Tear ‘n Share No Knead bread rolls and a game of balderdash with the gorgeous Mr T managing to retain his unblemished winning title. Time for us to part ways with Elizabeth and Wayne as they forge into the desert and Andrea, Paul and the gorgeous Mr T and I make our way towards Todra Gorge. But that’s for the morning.
Another G&T anyone?