Asian fare #1 in Morocco

Asia is leading the shift in Morocco’s food trends, as restaurants witness a newfound demand for fusion cuisine and lighter options.

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By  Lynne Nolan Published  September 1, 2006

Morocco’s restaurants are witnessing a newfound demand for light dishes and Asian fare, according to Patrice Jaumon, executive chef, Le Meridien N’Fis Marrakech. Restaurants in the Moroccan city are creating a fusion of Asian and modern cuisine, with traditional Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese offerings. Embracing dishes such as curries from South and South-East Asia, to the intricate and more delicately spiced dishes of Japan, the rising status of Asian cuisine in Morocco also includes food from Sri Lanka, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. “As well as being influenced from food from Far East Asia, responding to the requirements of fitness-oriented patrons some restaurants are now considering a different approach to Moroccan cuisine, which cuts down on the use of fat and sugar, whilst maintaining the cuisine’s identity,” commented chef Patrice. Chef Patrice has also noticed the industry evolving, as rivalry intensifies between outlets. However, he is eager to add that local cuisine is still the food of choice among most diners. As such, in an effort to cater to these wishes, chef Patrice places traditional items such as tajines and couscous on the menu, as well as revamped dishes made with a blend of Moroccan spices. “When you travel to a foreign country, you try to be as close as you can to local cuisine and local habits. And to an extent you need these markers of culture to feel comfortable,” he said. However, before his arrival in Morocco, chef Patrice worked in Mexico, French Polynesiaand the UK, with each place having distinctive approaches to eating habits. Although he found the UK to be a nation with high expectations when it came to cuisine, he said that the Mexican attitude to food was more laidback, with French Polynesian cuisine using a lot of simple ingredients. In Morocco though, the range of spices indigenous to the country allows the food to obtain a great balance of flavours, with the country divided into two main food trends; sweet and sour, or those with more spices but less dry fruits. “The food across Morocco is so different. For example, whether you are in the Essaouira on the Atlantic Ocean, Tanger in the Mediterranean Sea, or Ourzazate in the mountains, the food is different to that found in Fès in the valley. There is such an eclectic mix, ” chef Patrice added.

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