During September, in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, the Betrothal Feast of Imilchil is held with much colour and fanfare. A story of forbidden love is apparently what led to the creation of this event, officially called Souk Aamor Agdoud N’Oulmghenni.
The legend of Tislet and Isli is like a cross between Romeo/Juliet and Swan Lake (a lovely version is retold at Friends of Morocco). Refused permission to marry, the lovers threw themselves into lakes, or were perhaps dissolved by grief to become lakes, only to be forever separated by the mountains. Their families vowed to gather in remembrance and to never again meddle in the marriage choices of young people.
The festival, also known as the Berber Bride Festival, seems nowadays to largely be an annual reunion for villagers in the region, rather than a match-making exercise, but the romantic roots of the event remain. I love the idea of a festival of courting and eyelash fluttering in Morocco (imagine the spectacle!).
Speaking of match-making, lemon and salt are an ideal pair, aren’t they? I have managed to sneak quite a few vegetables past the lips of my fussy eaters with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of salt. And with Morocco in mind, I have preserved the last tiny lemons from my lichen-covered trees.
I found a variety of recipes for Moroccan preserved lemons, such as this one from David Lebovitz and another from this lovely blog called MarocMama. As usual, I took hints from a few different recipes and then improvised.
And now that I’ve married my lemons with so much salt, I need to find the perfect partner for this preserve. There are lots of suggestions on both of the above blogs, and more at A Recipe for Gluttony and Globetrotter Diaries.
Once the preserve has brewed for a month or so, I look forward to making a Moroccan feast for my own “betrothed”.