I tuned in to Wisconsin Public Radio yesterday. Lest you think I’m a masochist…well, you’re right! It’s excruciating, and I keep doing it, so…but let’s not go there.
Lame excuse: I’m a red pill pundit. I can’t do my job without knowing what the blue pill people are talking about.
And now they’re talking about Morocco. The public radio hosts were explaining how to make harira, a spicy lamb-vegetable-chickpea stew that all of Morocco consumes each evening during the holy month of Ramadan. Every square centimeter of Morocco, plus the dozen or so closest downwind countries, smells like herira for a whole month every year.
If you didn’t like herira, that would be almost as unpleasant as listening to public radio. Fortunately, almost everyone likes harira. There are definitely worse things to smell like. I won’t bother to list them for you.
Since I already know how to make harira (obtain spices, lamb, vegetables, and chick peas, and give them to my wife) I changed the station. WORT-Madison, a Pacifica affiliate that’s basically a bunch of boomer pseudo-leftists pretending to be “alternative” (which they actually were 50 years ago) was talking about Morocco too.
Then I got home, turned off the radio, checked my email, and found The New York Timesand Washington Post daily digests. Both had lead stories about…you guessed it…Morocco.
Being a shrewd and perceptive analyst finely-attuned to the subtlest nuances of current events, I pondered the data and deduced that Morocco is currently experiencing its Warholian fifteen minutes of fame.
For me, that’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m an academically-trained Morocco expert. My Ph.D. dissertation compares medieval Moroccan Sufi miracle stories to contemporary personal experience narratives of similarly miraculous events. So I’m not just an expert on Morocco, I’m specifically an expert on Moroccan miracles. I’m the guy everybody should be asking the obvious question: How in the world did Morocco’s underdog soccer team make it to the World Cup semifinals?
Unfortunately I can’t answer that question, beyond the obvious “it’s the will of Allah,” since I know next to nothing about soccer. I did coach a soccer team for a couple of years when my kids were little, but my four-year-old players understood the game better than I did. I was too thick, or too American, to grasp their explanations of the offside rule (among other fine points of the game). As Groucho said: “It’s so simple a four-year-old could understand. So bring me a four-year-old—I can’t make heads or tails of it!”
Pressed to explain Morocco’s success, I would draw a comparison with another sport I don’t know much about: boxing. The Moroccan team’s approach to soccer reminds me of Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope gambit in the Rumble in the Jungle with Foreman. Like Ali, the Moroccans hang back defensively and let the supposedly more powerful opponent flail and pummel to his heart’s content. When the powerful opponent eventually wears himself out, the Moroccans, like Ali, skillfully execute just enough offense to get the job done.
So why is the whole world in love with Morocco’s rope-a-dope overachievers? One obvious reason is that everyone loves a lovable underdog. And the Moroccans are not just big-time underdogs who’ve been consistently beating heavily-favored teams. They’re actually pretty lovable, as professional athletes go. They value teamwork. There are no prima donna celebrities. They’re down-to-earth, seem like genuinely nice people, conspicuously lack the egomaniacal narcissism that afflicts many star athletes—and after each game they kneel down humbly and give all praise to God, then run around the field waving Palestinian flags. If you’re Arab or Muslim or African or just non-Western, that probably strikes you as pretty cool. And even if you aren’t it’s still kind of refreshing.
The Palestinian flag-waving is actually a major statement. A few years ago, Morocco’s government was one of the handful of regional regimes that reluctantly “normalized” relations with the Zionist entity. The Zionist-run US made an offer Rabat couldn’t refuse: We’ll accept Morocco’s claim to the Sahara if you recognize Israel. So even though the vast majority of Moroccans loathe Israel and love Palestine, nudging the world down the path of recognizing the Moroccan Sahara as Moroccan was judged important enough justify nominally recognizing a regime that virtually nobody in Morocco accepts as legitimate. (And by the way, the Moroccans are right about the Sahara.)
The 2022 World Cup in general, and the Moroccan players in particular, have exposed the utter vacuity of the so-called Abraham Accords—a name that is blasphemously insulting to the beloved prophet Ibrahim, peace upon him. By shunning Israelis, telling Israeli reporters to get stuffed and that there is no such country, and waving Palestinian flags at every opportunity, World Cup participants, led by the Moroccan team, have emphatically informed the world that whatever their (utterly unrepresentative) governments may say, the people of the region and the world overwhelmingly oppose Zionism and avidly yearn for the complete liberation of Palestine.
Okay, enough about the Moroccan soccer team! Enough about the World Cup! I am a Morocco expert not a soccer expert! So instead of going on and on about the Moroccan footballers following in the footsteps of the Almoravids (al-Murabitun) and conquering Spain and Portugal en route to France, or gushing about how this is the first time an Arab or African team made it to the World Cup semifinals, or rambling endlessly about how the Muslim world is triumphing over the Western idiots who hate Qatar because it frowns on alcohol and sexual deviance, or speculating about whether Morocco’s “nobody scores on me” goalie Bono will become not only more famous than Cher’s mobbed-up ex-hubby Sonny but maybe even surpass the WEF-hobnobbing Irish songwriter of the same name, I will instead tell you about the pickled-lemon-and-chicken tajine that my wife made to celebrate the victory over Spain.
That pickled-lemon-and-chicken tajine was really, really good! I do have to warn you, however, that it takes about six months to prepare. First you have to pickle the lemons, which involves finding the right kind, Meyer lemons. (When I started typing that into Google up popped Meyer Lansky—you definitely don’t want that.) Anyway, you basically just leave the lemons in salty water for six months and let them ferment. You will find that, unlike Meyer Lansky, the Meyer lemons don’t become disgustingly rotten and putrid. (Yes, I know he was disgustingly rotten and putrid even while alive—but if you think that was bad, you should try digging him up sometime.)
After leaving the lemons in salty water for six months, you…you…well, I think I’d better let my wife explain how to make it. And since I actually don’t have that particular recipe right here with me, I’ll give you her apricot chicken recipe instead, which is somewhat similar except it involves apricots.
Tajine Djej Bil Mashmash
(Chicken With Dried Apricot)
1 whole chicken or chicken parts
1 onion grated
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric powder
dash of ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp saffron
10 ounces dried apricots
1 cup toasted blanched almonds
Marinate the chicken in the rest of the spice mixture for about 2 hours in the fridge.
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat, add chicken and stir fry for about 10-15 minutes. Add water and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes or 1 hour if you’re using whole chicken.
Meanwhile cook the apricots in a little water with cinnamon and let them simmer until soft. Add the apricots to the chicken pot and let everything simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Serve warm topped with toasted almonds.
If you like that recipe, there are a whole lot more in my wife’s book Moroccan Cooking for Diabetics. Unfortunately, when some people hear that title, they think: What is this, a cookbook full of desserts and syrupy mint tea? Is just looking at this book going to give me diabetes? Thinking about all that chebakia (sesame cookies with honey) and cornes de gazelles (ground almond pastries) washed down with the national beverage, sugar-saturated mint tea, is making my blood glucose level explode!
Well, actually, it’s the opposite. The book is designed to ameliorate or even cure diabetes if you have it, and prevent it if you don’t. As Fatna wrote in her introduction:
“In this book, I am going to try (Insha’allah—God willing) to offer delicious, bright, soulful recipes for diabetics. Non-diabetics are also welcome to try them. It will only make their lives healthier Insha Allah. In fact, eating this kind of healthy, delicious food may help prevent diabetes. It is better to manage diabetes with diet than to attempt to cure it with drugs. And it is an even better idea to try to prevent it in the first place, by following a diet and exercise regimen that keeps the body and spirit in balance and avoids overloading the endocrine system.”
Sachi Kuhananthan, MD wrote in his introduction to the book:
“Traditional diets were nutrition-dense and prevented the occurrence of chronic diseases in those societies. The Moroccan diet is one such traditional diet. Fatna Bellouchi has studied this diet over the years and has written this book of healthy traditional Moroccan recipes. I enjoyed her spicy Moroccan food on a few memorable occasions, and even thinking about them makes my mouth water!
“Fatna’s traditional Moroccan cooking offers numerous health benefits. First of all, olive oil is primarily used in Moroccan cooking. Butter is also used liberally. Goat meat and lamb are not only healthy foods but also very tasty in a curry form. Moroccans also value the intake of green leafy vegetables and fruits.
“Turmeric is widely used in Moroccan cooking. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and several studies show its usefulness in controlling pain in arthritis. Turmeric is also beneficial in blood sugar control in diabetic patients. Heart attacks occur when a clot forms in the coronary artery. It is becoming clear that the inflammation in the endothelial lining initiates this clot formation. Therefore, turmeric is probably useful in preventing heart attacks.
“Since we have learned about the key role of inflammation in so many ‘diseases of civilization’ Fatna’s turmeric-heavy dishes, and her use of nutrient-dense non-inflammatory foods, should offer health benefits to all, not just to diabetics.”
So now that it has been established that I am an expert on all things Moroccan—especially miraculous things like the success of their soccer team and delicious things like the dishes my wife cooks to celebrate it—there is nothing left to do but scream “GO MOROCCO!” and drop you this offer:
If you subscribe to my Substack at the $210-per-year level, and have a US mailing address, email me at TruthJihad(at)gmail[dot]com and we’ll send an autographed copy of Fatna’s book, with its 100+ delicious Moroccan recipes, to that US mailing address. (Sorry we can’t do it for non-US addresses.)
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.
He also has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS, and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.
Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin; where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.