Our blog post this week comes from Paris and specifically from the Fondation Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent where until July 20, the exhibition Berber Women of Morocco will be showing. The exhibition is divided into three spaces focusing on the following topics: Portrait of the Berber Women of Morocco, Skills and Craftsmanship and Traditional Clothing and Adornment.
Within these three spaces, amongst other beautiful things, are: headdresses of Berber brides, multiple silver chains, fertility beads and Tagmout enamelled silver balls.
There are no formal clothes on display – the Berbers wear large pieces of cloth held together by jewellery – but instead the curator Bjorn Dahlstrom has projected images of these onto flat screens.
The accompanying book, published by Artlys (192 pages), explains how these ornate pieces not only symbolise Berber identity but how they also reveal the strength of the women within her community.
This travelling exhibition will next travel to Bahrain before moving closer to home to Rabat.
You can see some of the displays, online here: www.fondation-pb-ysl.net
Just a 30 minute drive out of Marrakech takes you to the lively estate of Terres D’Amanar, located at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
A fine example of ecotourism and sustainable development in Morocco, Terres d’Amanar makes for a great, fun day out. Active types will enjoy the zip-wires, trekking, horse riding, climbing and mountain biking activities on offer, while more sedate activities include cookery and craft lessons. For all to enjoy there is a swimming pool and a library. Children love it here and Terres D’Amanar is popular with families.
The overall project has been overseen and designed by the local community who remain heavily involved. Seasonal food is prepared by Berber women from neighbouring areas and the staff come from nearby settlements too. Partnerships with local cooperatives mean that vegetables, craft products and raw building materials are all sourced locally as well – a creative and useful model that can serve as a blueprint for other businesses.
If you fancy overnighting, there are simple but clean and functional guestrooms available as well as large, comfortable tents for camping in the ‘nature village.’
Moroccan soul food is best sampled on the street, or in someone’s home. As a tourist it can be hard to secure an invite while on vacation, so after you’ve tried the delicious homecooked food at our riad, wander the makeshift food stalls around Djmaa el-Fna and surrounding streets. It is a quintessential Marrakchi experience.
Each night, the numbered stalls, topped with handwritten signs, are eagerly set up by Moroccan men in chefs’ whites. Bubbling cauldrons and hot pans contain everything from bean soups to skewered meats and often these delicious dishes will cost less than a sandwich back home.
With culinary traditions that draw on Morocco’s mix of Berber, Arab and European cultures, there are dozens of tasty dishes to try.
Stand number 6 is where Ahmed pitches up to ladle steaming bowls of escargot. Over at number 32, Hassan serves miniature beef sausages with red tomato chutney on the side. Other stands sell slow-cooked lamb, mini-chicken kebabs, aubergine dipped in sweet smoked paprika and of course tagines.
As with street eats anywhere in the world, there are a few key things to remember – choose busy stalls, eat where the locals eat (literally follow the crowd), dine where food is cooked fresh in front of you and be wary of fruit that may be regularly washed in dubious water to keep it looking fresh.
If you’re nervous give yourself a few days to adjust to the local cuisine, but be confident too – we’ve always been fine and you will be rewarded.