When people ask us what made us decide to move to Morocco, we always give the same answer; for our children to learn Arabic and French. This might not be a priority for everyone but it was important for us. I always felt terrible that my kids couldn’t have even basic communication with my husband’s mother and extended family. It brought me many sleepless nights thinking they would grow up and never know this part of their family, all because of a language barrier.
I know that it’s not feasible or even practical for everyone to relocate overseas but for anyone who is thinking about raising bilingual children you really should consider moving to a country where that language is the main language. In today’s world, living a location independent lifestyle is even more possible than ever before. This is the only reason we were able to move our family. Getting our life to a place where this was possible took a consistent and concerted effort. It also helps that living here means our day to day expenses were greatly reduced.
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In Morocco there is a bilingual education system, and in some schools it is tri- or quad- lingual (amazing isn’t it?) I’ve previously written about my children’s school and as they’ve progressed through this year I’ve learned a lot about multilingual education. My kids speak Arabic with my in-laws, on the street, and in regular communication at school. They spend half of each day learning in Arabic and the other half in French. What I’ve found is that while they are learning to spell and form sentences in French, they are not as conversationally fluent as they are in Arabic. I believe this is because they don’t use much French outside of class. As we prepare for next year I’ve got two goals; encourage and foster more English reading and writing at home and encourage them to use French more. Neither MarocBaba nor I are fluent in French so this makes having natural conversation difficult. So I am going to rely more on books and other resources to encourage them to speak. I was recently introduced to the Zazoo books by fellow Multicultural Kids Blogger Judith who authored the series.
The books are targeted at kids age 2-7 though I think for any child who is beginning to read in French they will be a good fit. I sat down with my boys and we read the book together. First, they loved the character line-up.
Our favorite character(s) is Krok and Minikrok. K laughed when his turn came up in the book. I was interested in how the book was laid out. Many bilingual books feature the native language and target language in literal translation next to each other. This does not. The story lines are mixed in French and English. I feel like this approach gives them enough context in the preceding and following English to pick up any parts of the French sentences they didn’t know. I also liked that there was a vocabulary page in the beginning. I recommend reading through these words first before the story.
We read through the book and I was impressed that my boys could directly translate the French into English and Arabic. Go boys! While my youngest son liked me reading the book to him, I struggled to get him to read alone. This is purely personality and one of our biggest learning hurdles with him. I found him much more interested in doing the games and activities. Even though I thought this would be too young for M (who is 10) he did like reading it. When we did the vocabulary he went through and identified the masculine and feminine words and took it further assigning the un- or une- beginnings. I can see there are plenty of extensions that can be made on this book for older kids who have a bit more knowledge and patience under their belts.
The little bilingues website has plenty of resources as well;
– Digital publications that are available for download for free: two activity books (theme: clothes) and a French-English bilingual eBook (theme: the beach);
– Print books: the first book is about clothing vocabulary. The themes of the upcoming books are: the beach, Paris and bedtime;
– Activity booklets focusing on the themes of the print books and eBooks: these activities will be downloadable for free for all buyers of the related print book or eBook;
– On the site and the blog, parents and teachers will also find advice on bilingualism and language learning as well as articles on cultural differences between English- and French-speaking worlds. And they will have the possibility to share their questions and tips with the little bilingues community on social networks.
You can try one of the books; The Zazoo Adventures at the Beach on the webpage.
I also found this great list of other online stories for children that are in other languages on Maria’s blog Trilingual Mama. Are you raising bilingual kids? What are some of your favorite resources?
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If there is one European power who has made an indelible mark on Morocco it is France. Beginning in the 15th century the Portuguese invaded and controlled the Atlantic coast but made no inroads to the country. As early as the 1830’s France expressed and began exercising interests in Morocco. Throughout the 19th century European powers such as Germany, Spain and Portugal all expressed some degree of power in the nation however it was France who ultimately gained a “sphere of influence” that was recognized. By 1906 special policing of the nation was entrusted to France and Spain. There was increasing tension between the European powers throughout the early 20th century culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Fez in 1912 making Morocco a protectorate of France. Morocco was never fully a colony of France as was neighboring Algeria or Tunisia. It was still a sovereign state, the sultan reigned but he had little to do with the ruling of the country. Through this same treaty Spain assumed the role of protecting power over the northern and southern zones of the country. Spain was given control of pieces of Morocco in the far north as Tetouan and South to Cape Juby. Tangier received special international status.
Once the protectorate was in place French settlers began to establish themselves in line with the French rulers to create a strong French alliance in the country. While the French pacified native Moroccans they promoted things such as economic development, urban planning and the building of roads and the infamous French boulevards, creation of a railway system and a modern agriculture sector geared to the French market. Thousands of French emigres entered Morocco and bought up agricultural lands pushing out native Moroccans.
The legal, governmental and education systems began transitioning to use of the French language. This in turn disenfranchised the majority of Moroccans who were not of the elite class. Many facets of life would soon “French-ified”, including food.
Walk around any city in Morocco and stop in a cafe serving food and you will most like see “le petit déjeuner” or breakfast on the menu. This is a quick meal usually consisting of some type of bread, croissant or pain au chocolate. This breakfast is often eaten in Moroccan homes as well. Second only to round loaves of khobz bread is the baguette a staple Moroccan starch.
Lunch in France is an affair, traditionally the larger meal of the day lasting between 1 and 2 hours. This is not only a French phenomenon but the countries that were once under French control still maintain this tradition today.
Dinners do look a bit different though in both French and Moroccan homes a salad or two will be served with a main course. Bread is also a staple for the meal. Dessert in both instances will most likely be fresh fruit. Meals in both countries tend to be much later in the evening than in the US.
I really don’t have a way to verify that any of these are directly related to French influence I only found them to be very similar in nature. This could be just tradition or they could play off of each other. I think that each cooking tradition is bound in the tradition of hearty peasant food.
- In both countries there is attention paid to knife skills. A Moroccan cook pays attention to the size of her dice for salads, making sure that everything is uniform. The same can be said for France.
- Vegetables are the star not meats unless it is a special dish.
- Herbs and spices are mixed to enhance the flavor of food.
- One pot dishes reign supreme in homes. For the French the cassoulet and in Morocco the tajine are the method of choice for many home cooks.
- Pastries. French pastries are beautiful and traditionally made in small sizes. In Morocco this attention to detail and focus on creating bite-size sweets exists however the ingredients used are more reminiscent of Arabic cuisine.
Now it’s your turn! What are some of your favorite Moroccan recipes with a French connection? Or, a favorite historical bit about Morocco from 1900-1919? Leave a comment below!
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For a long time I’ve been battling recipes that have weight measurements instead of volume measurements. I just couldn’t get myself to buy a kitchen scale but as we’ve moved to a largely gluten-free home it’s become a necessity. So many gluten-free baking recipes call for a weight measurement and while I can estimate what the conversion is in volume somehow it just doesn’t turn out right. Recently OXO put up their kitchen scale to bloggers interested in trying it out. I knew that it was my perfect opportunity! But as fate would have it when I went to make a photograph a gluten-free bread recipe using the scale I realized I was out of several of the flours I needed. Isn’t that life? Instead I went with a different recipe that has intrigued me for months.
One of my favorite cookbooks from last year was Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours
It’s a heavy book, beautifully photographed and full of delicious recipes. There is one recipe for Beggar’s Linguine that has piqued my interest but I always brushed aside because I just knew MarocBaba wouldn’t like it, let alone like it.
I was wrong.
I changed some of the ingredients and swapped out regular linguine for gluten-free rice noodles but it was still very good.
The base of the recipe is a mixture of nuts and dried fruits. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly so this is my version of it. For the nuts I added pistachios and almonds chopped coarsely – about 1.5-2 oz of each.
I then used 4oz of noodles (this was for 2 people). I also added in a handful of pitted dates chopped roughly.
In a large skillet I melted 3 tbsp of good quality butter on medium heat. The rice noodles don’t actually boil but soak in very hot water for a few minutes. Once they are ready, drain the water and add to the melted butter. Toss in the nuts and fruit mix-ins and season with salt and pepper. You could also add garlic, chopped onions or other seasonings.
It is done when everything is mixed together well and heats up – about 5 minutes total. Serve on plates with a generous dusting of parmesan or another salty cheese. Make sure to serve hot!
I really love my new OXO scale and I think you would like one too – so I’ve got one to give away!!! Follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget to be eligible to win. Contest ends 04/05/12. Giveaway is open to US residents only.
See that? It’s probably one of the most recognizable symbols around the world. I’ve always dreamed of the day I made it to France to see L’tour Eiffel up close and personal. On our way to Morocco we had a 13 hour layover in Paris and there was no chance we were spending it in the airport. (I’m going to do another post at some point talking about long layovers and how to spend them out of the airport.) There were three things that I needed to do in Paris.
1. Eat a great lunch
2. See Notre Dame
3. Take a boat ride on the Seine.
Check, Check AND Check.
The hardest part of my plan was finding the right place to have lunch because it had to be perfect. How many times does one get to have lunch in Paris? We walked A LOT and I couldn’t decide where to stop. Maybe it was because we were so hungry or maybe it was just indecision. Finally when I couldn’t stand walking anymore we just sat down at a small bistro a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower.
It was there I ordered one of the best things I’ve ever had. MarocBaba ordered a dish with organic chicken that was juicy and full of flavor. I ordered a salad with microgreens and goat cheese tartine. A tartine is a French open-faced sandwich that is generally a step up from the American idea of a sandwich. This one was on a thick slab of brioche bread with goat cheese melted on top. Drizzled over the cheese was honey and hidden underneath thyme. I’ve been dreaming of this meal for weeks now! But, it’s hard to find the same great honey that exists in France. American honey is thinner and sometimes has a sugary after taste. But I’ve found a great honey here in the US.
At Eat, Write, Retreat last spring I received Honey Ridge Farms Lemon Creme honey. Love in a glass jar. Now I’ve got all of the flavors to test out and play with. When the box came MarocBaba immediately seized the jar of Honey Creme Clover and swears it’s the best honey he’s had in the US. This coming from a Moroccan whose grown up eating honey just about every day of his life really tells me what a great product this is. There are 7 flavors of honey creme but for this recipe I stuck with the clover honey. (I’m going to introduce you to all of the flavors in a future post). Here’s my version of my Parisian dream lunch.
The salad component can be whatever you like best. But, for the tartine here’s what you will need.
- Good bread a brioche or french baguette will work well
- Chevre (goat) cheese
- Honey Ridge Farms Clover Honey Creme
- Za’atar mix (you can get that here, but essentially a mix of thyme, sesame seeds and salt)
To assemble, spread slices of bread with the honey creme and sprinkle za’atar on top. Next add a layer of goat cheese. Place them under a broiler in your oven or toaster oven until the cheese starts to melt slightly and the bread starts to toast on the edges. In another small bowl melt a few teaspoons of honey creme. Place the bread around the salad and drizzle with the melted honey before serving.
Disclaimer: This post is part of Honey Ridge Farms “Spread the Love” campaign. I was not compensated for writing this post however did receive complimentary products. All opinions are my own.
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