Alas, the greetings are not my own but rather from a reader, Anita, who sent me some photos from sunny North Africa. (I'm in NYC, where a snowstorm has closed the Union Square Market, chased away even the hardiest of street vendors and even emptied the supermarket shelves of their dubious produce options.)
I'm on the last bit of a tour of Morocco that includes Casablanca, Marrakesh and Essaouira. I thought you'd appreciate this picture of the central market in Agadir, a city on the Atlantic Coast. This market was actually featured on our tour!
Many people know Moroccan cuisine for its tajines, couscous and cinnamon - infused dishes. Despite some desertification, Morocco is also a big producer of produce - melons, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, olives, figs, dates, and, most prominently of all, citrus fruits. Just about the only Moroccan fruit I've ever seen for sale in the U.S. are Royal Moroc clementines.
I saw avocados; nice-looking strawberries and raspberries; gorgeous, huge persimmons; small bananas; squash and eggplant; big navel oranges. Clementines are ubiquitous.
Perhaps Morocco's best known agricultural product is argan oil, which has been used for culinary and cosmetic purposes within Morocco for millennia. More recently, it's become very popular all over the world as an anti-oxidant powerhouse hair and skin conditioner. Argan trees, native to Morocco, grow fruits that contain kernels (not unlike cashew apples) that are harvested for oil. Argan oil's popularity has been good for the environment - the hardy trees are fighters against desertification - and for women's economic development in Morocco, since much of the argan oil industry is based upon women's cooperatives.
Argan fruit extremely popular with another group, whom Anita photographed on the road between Essaouira and Casablanca chowing down in the trees: goats.
It's nice to know that even these famously non-discerning eaters occasionally eat right!
Thanks, Anita, for sharing your trip with me. I feel warmer already.