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The First Tahksnahky

Building cross-cultural bridges with a good, old-fashioned Moroccan Thanksgiving.

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By Claudia Crook

Travel Writer

27 Jul 2018 - 6 Minute Read

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The headscarves wrapped across our faces would’ve been ample protection from Saharan winds. They prove no match, however, for the burning cloud of sugary dust Khadjia and I produce as we grind rock sugar to powder with a mortar and pestle, coughing violently and doubling over with laughter. A ridiculous task, yes; but it’s Thanksgiving and I must make a pumpkin pie.

I offered to cook for my Berber host family on my favorite American holiday as a parting gesture after a month-long stay at their bed and breakfast in Aoufous, a small village carved into the side of the canyon overlooking a date palm oasis in eastern Morocco’s Ziz Valley. But preparing a good, old-fashioned Moroccan Thanksgiving is not without challenges.

First, the very word proves difficult for my Arabic-speaking hosts to pronounce, so we adopt their best attempt: “Tahk-SNAH-ky”. Some ingredients must be substituted: sour pomegranates in lieu of cranberries, khobz for cornbread in the stuffing.

Earlier today, Khadija’s son, Saïd, helped me navigate the maze-like souks, deftly charming allspice from the spice vendor’s baskets and assuring me that green Kabocha squash will pass for pumpkin. We also picked up the holiday bird: a live hen, which the butcher slaughtered for us on the spot. I forgot, however, that only solid blocks of sugar, which melt so easily into steaming pots of mint tea, were on hand in the kitchen. So, we grind.

Claudia Crook
Claudia Crook
Claudia Crook

As we labor and laugh, I’m moved by Khadjia’s dedication. She doesn’t know about the Pilgrims, or care about pumpkin pie; she just knows it’s important to me and wants to help.

When we finally sit down to feast, I can’t help but reflect on the significance of the holiday and my time in Morocco. Living in a predominantly Muslim country during the 2016 US presidential election had been sobering. Even here, election coverage was ubiquitous, and my hosts shared in my excited anticipation of a female leader, then comforted me as I wept on November 9th. The Ilahiane family’s embrace of me, and Tahksnahky, stings with irony (which the soon-to-follow travel ban would only heighten: in my country, millions who look like my hosts would be barred from entry, while in Aoufous, I arrived a stranger and was received like one of the family).

But the table is full of food, and Khadija is eyeing the curious Western sweet we toiled over. I smile as I cut the first slice, filled with gratitude that after such a labor of love we can sit down together and share a piece of the pie.

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Travel Writer

Claudia is lifelong traveler and writer, combining the two first in a high school travel blog during an internship in London, then most recently in Argentina as a winner of the 2018 World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship.

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  • hassan said

    https://moroccotripsahara.com/morocco-tours/ there are several monuments in tetouan, most notably: 3 , archeology museum; this museum is dedicated to the period preceding the entry of lslam into MOROCCO; where it contains many valuable exhibits such as: artifacts, etc, the great mosque founded in the fifteenth century ad, one of the most important religious monuments in the city, kasbah mosque:this mosque is located in the kasbah known as kasbah sidi al-maqari, one of the oldest mosques in the city, it was built in the last quarter of the fifteenth century by sayed al-mallah neighborhood is the citys jewich quarter, which is also an important tourist attraction in our time, thes neighborhood is characterized by a number of attractions, which are also important and important statoins for visitors to the city, al-matamir prison church; this is one of the citys most historic monuments, an underground church, it was a special place of worship for prisoners of the door of aqla; this watering is one of the most beautuful waterffalls found in the Old city, which is characterized by its unique decoration, so it is one of the most important tourist attraction sites; moroccotripsahara;

  • Himi said

    This is great!

  • Ana Rosa said

    Incredible writing!

  • Ari said

    This is a beautiful piece. It strikes so many cords in me, as an American, a lover of thanksgiving, and the bridging of cultures. Beautiful work.

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