Comfort for Five Cents a Bowl

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Photo by loriben13/FlickrCC


I love street food. And I love soup. And when soup is a street food--a 24-hour, always available, always warming and delicious street food--ay, there my heart is glad.

Morocco is one of these places. Harira, a slightly spicy tomato-based soup with a varying combination of chickpeas, lentils, pasta, and lamb, is available at all hours and in all parts of the country. It is used to break the fast at sundown in the month of Ramadan, and beloved as a breakfast, first course or late-night snack throughout the year. In Tangier and the northern part of country harira is joined by another local soup called bissara.

This creamy split pea soup is ladled out of huge cauldrons, spiced with cumin and drizzled with oil, then served with a hunk of bread and a bowl of black olives. What could be more divine? In the damp cold of winter men in earth-colored jellabas bend over their bissara, steam rising into their pointed hoods to warm their faces, comfort at 0.05€ a bowl.

To try making these soups yourself, check out one of the enticing recipes available on the Internet. Click here for harira, here for bissara.

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Maggie Schmitt is a freelance researcher and translator based in Madrid.  She is currently working on a book called The Gaza Kitchen with Laila El-Haddad. Learn more at gazakitchens.wordpress.com.

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