Above: Image courtesy of Tijen Erol, Flickr Creative Commons
Eating with your hands is a time-honoured tradition. Rule number one: eat with your right hand only, using the thumb and first two fingers. Using more is a sign of gluttony.
The left hand may only be used for picking up bread or passing dishes on to other people. Never help yourself to bread, wait until it is given to you. If more than one person apportions the bread at the table, the house will be beset by quarrelling.
Use the bread to mop up sauces and clean you plate. Do not lick your fingers until the end of the meal. In the meantime wipe them on the bread or a napkin, if you have to.
When at home with a Moroccan family the women may not eat with the family, allowances are made when female visitors are there for lunch. The cook presents the lunch and leaves.
The host will announce ‘Bismillah’ (the name of Allah), everyone echoes his salutation. Then eating commences.
If you are full, continue nibbling. If you stop the rest of the table will follow suit.
If offered a gift when invited into a Moroccan home do not refuse – it’s very uncouth to turn down a charitable moment. Be careful not to admire something in the house as they may give it to you to take away. This is the Arab fear of the ‘evil eye’ – the envied object is given away to deter jealousy.
In the same way do not refuse food when offered. The host will always offer food when you enter his home.
Three glasses of mint tea and a meal is acceptable. The best portions will be served to you. If you don’t like it – just taste a little of it.
At the end of a meal a significant portion of food must remain.
Honour the host. Conversation must be entertaining and praising of the food.
Read More on Do’s & Don’ts at the Morroccan dinner table here: