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!


Anna said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying Spain, Grace! As usual, I love your posts, but as usual, pedantry is the only thing that actually manages to move me to leave a comment:

"Macedonia" is just the term they use for fruit salad in Spain, France, and Italy, including the horrible canned stuff produced by Del Monte et al. There's even a wikipedia entry for it, apparently:

But what you're eating looks like some variation on carrot halwa (the Arabic term they also use in India), decorated with some kiwi and mandarin slices. I don't know much about Moroccan food, but have seen Sephardic/North African recipes for something similar in both my Claudia Rodin and another Jewish cookbook. Macedonia sounds to me like a shrugging translation based on the garnish.

Looking at the picture makes me hungry for a sweet, notwithstanding my Halloween gorging!

AppleSister said...

Ah, Anna, as always, you are fount of random knowledge! Thanks for the clarification and the word "halwa." I kept saying to Becca it reminded me of "halvah," and she looked at me like, no, it is not a sesame candy.