I decided to invite my Moroccan neighbors, friends, and colleagues over for a birthday party on September 11. In Morocco, young children normally celebrate their birthdays with a small party consisting of cake and soda and get some presents but men and women don’t do anything special. Births, weddings, deaths, and religious holidays are celebrations. I started preparing for my first time entertaining Moroccans in my home by ordering a cake from the local (and only) bakery on Wednesday with lots of hand gestures as to the size and shape of the cake because I do not know the word for square in Darija and asked the baker to write Happy Birthday for me in English. I ended up getting a circle cake! Hahaha. Then a group of little boys almost followed me home, asking for a piece of the cake “Bonjour” “Madmoiselle,” until a older man told them to stop. I invited women over at 6pm, and men over at 8pm.Although boys, girls, women, and men attend school and university, and sometimes work together, they lead separate social lives in my site. It is rare that women and men are friends and hang out. They also hang out in different places. In my site, women spend time together in their houses, parks, or the side of the street/road and men go to all males cafes and the countryside, and also parks and the side of the street/road. I do work with mostly men and boys at the dar shebab and I wanted to have a party with them so I asked trusted friends (females and males) if it was ok to have them in my apartment. They said it was fine because I am a foreigner and they know that in the US women and men are friends and the men and boys are my colleagues but to have them over separately because they cannot socialize with them unless they are family or their husband’s are there.
This gender divide is strange to me because in the US there is a different norm. I am sometimes frustrated that I cannot hang out with males here aside from time in the dar shebab and events like my birthday.
Then I took the bus into Marrakesh to buy a mini electric oven at the amazing supermarket Marjane (which has lots of products I can’t find at site like peanut butter and parmesan cheese) and tried to make some chocolate chip cookies with some Nestle chocolate chips that my mom had brought me from the US to Spain but they spread out thin and burnt! I put the cookie batter into a cake pan instead to make them into bars but it also burnt on the top! Ahhh! I also made peanut butter cookie bars and they burnt too. Hahaha. This stressed me out a ton and I sent desperate emails to my mom, dad, and sister and was anxious until people arrived. It was my first time hosting Moroccans and I wanted to make a good impression. I want to be a good host and cook like my Moroccan friends. I sprinkled powdered sugar on top of the bars and told my friends I was still learning to use my oven and they devoured the bars and brought some home for their families to taste who said they were delicious.
I am happy that I did entertain people for my birthday although I almost had a nervous breakdown over the burnt chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. I have been going over to peoples houses so much and I want to return the favor. I also want to share American culture through food because I think taste is a beautiful language. So far I have only made pancakes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which they loved too. I am looking forward to having friends over to cook pizza, lasagna, cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, sugar), banana bread, etc soon now that I have an oven! Hopefully they won’t burn! Hahaha.