Monday, October 29, 2007
Moroccan food and architecture in Granada
I have to admit, it was a bit of relief to arrive in Granada and eat Moroccan food. Maybe it was Jaime’s stories about the less-than-innocent origins of the Spanish love of pork, but I was ready to eat something other than jamón, and Granada turned out to be one of the best places to do so. All over Spain, I’d seen signs of Muslim immigration, but in Granada, the Moroccan presence was strongest, from the Moroccan crafts sold to tourists to the teterias or tea shops all over the Albayzin, the old and now new Muslim quarter. And of course, Granada is the home of the Alhambra.
We had a good lunch at a random little shop, more of a café than a restaurant with low tables on which they served good hummus and kefta, translated for Spaniards as albondigas, and which we know as those Middle Eastern meatballs. And then we found dinner at Restaurante Arrayanes.
It was obviously a popular restaurant and it filled up quickly after we walked in. The owner treated the restaurant like his baby and came to every table, asking if we needed anything, if we were enjoying ourselves. As a true Muslim restaurant, it didn’t serve alcohol, but it did serve a delicious lemonade made with mint.
The food was good, if not the best Moroccan meal I’ve ever had, but one thing did truly stand out—the “Macedonian” dessert. It was the dessert of the day, not on the menu, and so I'm not quite sure if it's literally called a "Macedonian." It was a soft molded dessert, not quite a custard but not quite a cake. It was sweet without being cloying and so comforting, you could feed it to a baby. We argued for a bit about what was in it—Becca thought saffron and coconut, I argued that it was carrot. I was gleeful when it turned out I was right. It had reminded me very much of an Indian carrot pudding I had years ago in San Francisco.
And so we were fortified for our hike up and around the Alhambra the next morning, but the need to cleanse myself of ham didn’t last long. The next night, we were back to plates of jam, cheese and olives, washed down with a touristy pitcher of sangria. Ah!