Local chef shares her Moroccan taste adventure with international audiences.
She has cooked for the likes of Al Gore and former President Thabo Mbeki.
Giggling Gourmet chef, Jenny Morris, says she’s still pinching herself black and blue after hearing the news a year ago that she would be the first South African celebrity chef to host a series on the DStv Food Network.
The show, Jenny Cooks Morocco, will air in 86 countries and will feature 10 episodes.
Instead of simply recreating meals, she says she has given them a Jenny twist while using local ingredients.
“I thought, ‘What can I do that’s different?’,” says Morris.
“I wanted to show the Moroccans what their ingredients mean to me. I made a sweet couscous omelette and the locals couldn’t stop eating it.”
Her biggest coup while filming was making one grouchy local woman finally smile, with a de-
cadent rice pudding.
“Oh my gosh, your mouth would love you…” she says of the dessert.
Despite her vast experience and knowledge, Morris says she has learned a thing or two from her Moroccan experience.
“I learned how to make couscous from scratch and got on my knees to bake bread. The floor is frozen and your back aches,” she says.
Every last scrap of an animal is used in Moroccan meals. Nothing is wasted.
“We were served lung kebabs and an entire colon. We thought, we’re not putting that in our mouths,” she says.
Morris and her chef also sourced their own chickens and had to remove the “walkie-talkies” themselves.
Her fishing skills received impressed nods of approval from the Moroccan men, whose sole responsibility, she says, is to make mint tea – a task they execute with exaggerated flourishes.
One local family set up a banquet in Morris’s honour, pulling out their silverware and announcing that she would be served lizard tagine – a great honour.
“I was praying that it would snow so the lizards would stay underground!” she laughs.
Morris insists that the show is about more than just food.
“It’s about food and people.
I learned so much about being human. In Fez, we grilled kebabs in a market and an old blind man found his way to us by smell. He gave me a tangerine from the nothing he had and I made sure to eat it.
If we could apply the same charity here in this country it would turn crime around.”
Morris insisted from the outset that she didn’t want the show to be touristy or contrived.
“I’m like a child with a lucky packet.
I wanted it to be a voyage of discovery,” she says.
So when you see her gasp as she enters what she calls a carpet cathedral in a village dating back to the 11th century, or grimace as she rides a camel across the Sahara desert, those are all genuine reactions.
Morris travelled across 6 000km in snow and sunshine, astonished by the Moroccan scenery.
“It looks like something out of a children’s Bible,” she says.
“They still crush olive oil using a donkey and stone wheel. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“One bakery bakes about 1 000 loaves of bread a day and they know exactly which loaf belongs to who.
There’s no thermostat, yet they never burn it.”
In between whipping up meals for the show, she also attended a perfume ceremony.
“All the ladies pulled out their bottle of perfume and sprayed me. You can imagine what I smelled like!” she laughs.
An unforgettable experience was walking on a mountain of thyme.
Every inch was covered in thyme.
As you walked on it, with the sun beating down, the scent enveloped you.
I wanted to roll in it,” Morris remembers.
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