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A Moroccan Memory

March 23, 2010

The only time I can recall eating Moroccan food was when my parents took my siblings and I on a trip to Epcot Center.  Like most family vacations, Epcot consisted of my dad complaining about the price of just about everything, us kids complaining that we were hungry and/or tired and/or wanted to be at Disney World, and my mom complaining that she was tired of listening to all of our complaints.

To be honest, I can’t really blame my dad because Epcot was very expensive.  And worst of all?  There was nothing to do!  We walked around kind of aimlessly, not knowing how to justify admission costs.  We were very unclear as to why we spent an arm and a leg in entrance fees only to spend even more money on overpriced food and souvenirs.  The only thing that was clear was that us kids needed to do some serious “oohing” and “aahing” if we wanted to avoid our father getting angrier with each unproductive and pricey minute that went by. 

After humoring my dad for a few hours, we were all relieved when he announced it was time for lunch.  But our happiness was short-lived because he chose a Moroccan restaurant.  Not only were we not in the mood for a food adventure, but the food was really terrible.  I mean, it was so terrible that I was literally gagging with each bite.  But we abided by my dad’s golden rule…when he was spending money we had to pretend like we were having a good time, no matter what.  My sister didn’t get the memo though because she decided she wasn’t going to humor anyone, least of all my dad.  The fallout wasn’t pretty and needless to say, Epcot was our last and final family vacation. 

Despite my horrible experience with Moroccan food, I was totally craving it yesterday.  I think it partially had to do with the fact that after much counseling I am finally at peace with the nightmare surrounding Epcot, and partially because I came across a recipe for Chickpea Tagine with Cinnamon, Cumin, and Carrots and by some miracle I had almost all the ingredients. 

I never have all the ingredients for something, because, well that would just be nuts.

I revised the recipe a bit, as follows:

1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1 14.5 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 frozen spinach
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and saute 2-3 minutes until the onion slices are soft. Stir in chickpeas, carrots, dried cranberries, spices, honey, and 1 cup of water. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Yogurt and cilantro would have been good additions to this awesome dish, but of course I didn’t have either item in my refrigerator.  Big surprise there, right?  But I did have brown rice, proof that miracles do happen.

I was a bit nervous that Ali would have issues with a totally new dish for dinner, but other than to ask me if the  dish had cinnamon in it, I heard no other comments.  I think my defensive, “Why, is it not good?” response probably scared him into proceeding any further. 

What can I say?  I have my dad’s temper.

41 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2010 8:15 pm

    Your dish looks like a picture from a food magazine – beautiful!
    “My sister didn’t get the memo though” haha love your writing.

  2. March 23, 2010 9:14 pm

    Way too funny reading about yr Epcot experience but I am sure it was not back then. We will be going to Orlando in June with kids 5, 7, 10 & older. Is it worth it to go in or should we just stick to the Disney World? I’d better check the web huh.

    • March 24, 2010 8:22 am

      I suggest going online because it has definitely been a while since our trip, but honestly? I will never take Maya to Epcot. There are so many other places I’d rather go!

  3. actorsdiet permalink
    March 23, 2010 10:27 pm

    i love the cranberries and honey in this dish

  4. March 24, 2010 1:24 am

    that looks soo good, ameena! i need to make things like this more, so hearty and nourishing and easy! well, you make it look easy 🙂

  5. March 24, 2010 2:41 am

    This looks awesome! Andrew and I need more variety and a moroccan dish would be the perfect solution. We’ll have to try this out! 🙂

  6. March 24, 2010 3:57 am

    lol…that sounds like so many of my family’s vacations together. Good times.

  7. March 24, 2010 4:05 am

    Awww, I’m so sorry about your Epcot tragedy! Those experiences are so rough when you’re a kid…

    Your dish, however, is gorgeous!!! I love the flavors and the beautiful presentation!

  8. March 24, 2010 4:30 am

    Its been ages since I’ve ad Morrocan food! This looks delicious!!!

  9. March 24, 2010 5:17 am

    As kids, we thought Epcot was boring, too. I mean, there are no characters there! I wouldn’t hold anything against Epcot food, though. I can’t imagine it’s very Moroccan. Didn’t Spain serve Tex-Mex?

  10. March 24, 2010 5:27 am

    HAHA- I’ve never been able to understand the allure of Disney. Maybe that’s because my sisters & I had chicken pox when we were there?!

    I love that your recipes are totally reasonable & don’t require random, hard to find ingredients. I’m going to try this one!

  11. Danielle permalink
    March 24, 2010 5:47 am

    I’m not sure what Epcot is all about…but it doesn’t sound very pleasant lol. I went to Disneyland a lot when I was younger & loved it. When I went back as an “adult” it had suddenly become frustrating- waiting in lines, spending serious $, screaming kids. Funny how things change like that 😉

  12. March 24, 2010 5:56 am

    Love moroccan food.. I have never bean to Epcot.. but noted to not take my future kiddos there.

  13. March 24, 2010 5:59 am

    I love moroccan food, all of the spices and flavors! I always grill my boyfriend about whether he likes a new meal…poor them for having to be the guinea pigs!

  14. louisianagrown permalink
    March 24, 2010 6:38 am

    Are your dad and Ali a lot alike? I kind of get that vibe…

    • louisianagrown permalink
      March 24, 2010 6:39 am

      By the way, do you pronounce his name like Allie or like Ah-LEE? I’ve never been quite sure. 😉

  15. March 24, 2010 6:42 am

    I love reading about the idiosyncracies of other people’s families! I can totally picture your Epcot excursion now.

    If it helps, my Epcot experience was all about embarrassment: my one-year-old sister kept blowing spit bubbles and my dad wouldn’t stop talking about world history wherever we went. Worst of all, it being Florida, half the park was Spanish-speaking too and could understand him. I was five and so silly. I can’t wait to go all “world history” on my future kids someday and I’ll encourage them to blow spit bubbles wherever they go 🙂

  16. March 24, 2010 6:45 am

    Such a good point- Epcot really doesn’t have much to offer. And it’s hysterical to think of family vacations gone wrong. I have so many of those memories.
    The dinner you prepared really does look delicious! I love chickpeas and the flavors involved in this Moroccan dish. But what I can relate to most is that quick, defensive “Why? You don’t like it?” I do that all the time to Daniel. Drives him nuts!

  17. March 24, 2010 6:52 am

    I don’t even know what epcot center is.
    Growing up in a little rural place on the East coast of canada…a trip was going to a cabin in the woods that had an outhouse for a toilet…as kids we loved that…spent hours just climbing (and falling) on rocks and trees and exploring the land.
    Disney world was like some golden land of royalty — something to ooh and aah at but never imagine being there….still don’t …ha! its still as distant and foreign to me now as it was then!

    Neat -o dish….it seems your diet is so restricted, would be interesting to see how to haul together a full day of eats. I feel I must eat about 10x more than any other…and i fear it will be like this forever (not a neat thing actually at all). I should probably try to branch into more of this vegan-fare i see everywhere too. At least explore it a bit more.

  18. March 24, 2010 7:21 am

    Chickpeas, onions, carrots, and /cranberries/? It sounds genious! I love cranberries in practically anything. Naturally, I don’t have any chickpeas or tumeric in the house (though I might get away with curry powder), and I used the last of the onion on Monday. This is definitely going on The List of dishes to try after my next grocery trip.

  19. March 24, 2010 7:30 am

    I have never had Moroccan food but that looks really good. And Epcot is probably the only theme park I have come across that I don’t like. Seriously what is the point of it? Luckily Disney has tons of other areas to visit that are great.

  20. March 24, 2010 7:44 am

    omg Ameena I was craving something with chickpeas and these spices last night…I’m totally going to make this for dinner tonight. Thaaank youuu.

  21. whydeprive permalink
    March 24, 2010 8:05 am

    That looks delicious!!

    Im not allowed to cook with cinnamon – or chew cinnamon gum (even though its my favorite). I wont tell you what my boyfriend thinks it smells like – but he’s got some serious issues!

  22. March 24, 2010 8:31 am

    oh that looks so delcious…..i need to venture to more of these recipes. funny about your hubby 😉

  23. March 24, 2010 8:56 am

    I loved going to Disney World as a kid, but I can’t honestly say I’ve ever heard of Epcot Center. I can definitely relate to family vacations being stressful times though… It’s almost like the extra pressure that because it’s a vacation means it has to be fun puts everyone on edge.

  24. March 24, 2010 9:30 am

    I don’t think I’ve had Moroccan food, but I like almost anything with chickpeas.

    My family went to Epcot when I was a kid. I remember lots of whining. Mostly my dad.

  25. March 24, 2010 9:39 am

    I absolutely love Moroccan food, but I’ve never been successful at cooking it. Your chickpea dish looks yummy.
    My new blog went up today and I am so excited. Stop by and check out my brand new and improved site daaaahling. I want to know what you think. I’m also doing a fab give away.
    *kisses* HH

  26. March 24, 2010 9:46 am

    hmmmmm i don’t think i’ve ever had moroccan before. looks very yummy 🙂

  27. March 24, 2010 10:36 am

    Last year, I went on a Disney vacation with the bf’s family. One of the dinners we had was actually in Epcot’s Moroccan restaurant, and I had a very similar experience! I had such high hopes for the place but walked out disappointed. I remember exactly what I ordered; salmon with couscous and veggies, everything else on the menu scared me and I was in no adventurous mood. Needless to say, the dish was terrible! The salmon had the skin on which grossed me out (is that weird?) and the couscous had no taste, such a lame dish! I will never go back there again, and while we are on the subject Epcot’s Chinese restaurant isn’t too good either.

  28. March 24, 2010 10:46 am

    it’ so funny that you were craving moroccan food. that is a great sign, right?
    how did maya like it?

  29. Susan permalink
    March 24, 2010 11:13 am

    I love how you incorporate your memories with a recipe. It reminds me of Tessa Karro’s “Apples for Jam”.

    I love Moroccan spices. They’re not as strong as some other cuisines, but they’ve got this sweet synergy which is just divine.

    PS – I never have all the ingredients for a recipe either!

  30. March 24, 2010 11:41 am

    That sounds delicious actually!!! The flavors sound like they would be amazing together!

    Sorry to hear about your Epcot experience! I went when a couple years ago and LOVED it… but to each his own.

  31. March 24, 2010 12:32 pm

    I get pissy too when I don’t get recognition for a meal I’ve worked hard on! Yours looks very good, though… I love tagine.

  32. March 24, 2010 3:45 pm

    Too bad your Epcot trip had to be the last family outing. I guess in this case you can blame it on the food. 🙂 I don’t think I’ve had Moroccan before. I’ve been tempted to try making some kind of tagine. I think I should start with this one.

  33. March 24, 2010 4:14 pm

    Too funny! Your family vacation reminds me of my childhood. 🙂

    This dish is gorgeous. Mike and I would both love it — I especially love the cranberries in there!

  34. March 24, 2010 6:24 pm

    Yum! I love tagine! Yeah I can imagine Epcot wouldn’t be the best place for Moroccan cuisine- and I agree it was pretty boring! I remember asking my dad why we didn’t just spend another day in Magic Kingdom instead!
    Looks delicious- and I have a can of chickpeas in my apartment waiting to get used!

  35. March 24, 2010 7:16 pm

    Looks great – I have never tried moroccan, but I think its time to!

  36. March 25, 2010 2:23 pm

    I love your Disney story.

    I should try this recipe. My husband and I love anything with chickpeas!

  37. August 19, 2010 1:49 pm

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  38. Tina O'Toole permalink
    July 8, 2016 4:18 pm

    Epcot was one of my fondest memories from our Disney World trip when I was 9. I am excited my husband an I will be taking our kids this November. The world showcase was always my favorite part, as it is like taking a trip around the world and seeing, smelling, tasting everything from these countries. I think it has some of the best food in Disney World. Granted, there are off days, but if your trip was long ago, Disney dining has stepped it up over the years. It is definitely worth the money, and for those who can allow themselves to be a part of the experience, it can be appreciated for the cultural experience it provides. Perhaps you can give it another chance one day.

    • July 10, 2016 8:03 pm

      It’s been years since I’ve been so I’m sure it’s much better now! Maybe we’ll give it another chance one of these days…

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