Monday 29 March 2010

Mekla (food)

Most Moroccans have good knowledge of natural nutrition similar to the science of Chinese nutrition, based on a holistic approach to the body. This ancient science is still very much alive and part of the day to day life in the rural areas as well as the cities. A daily diet in Morocco is generally in tune with the seasons and requirements of the body in order to maintain good health or cure medical problems.

This knowledge comes forth from tradition and Moroccan people greatly enjoy talking about mekla (food) amongst each other. This morning a man was talking about the food he had eaten the night before. His wife had prepared porridge with maize and buttermilk and a few hours after dinner he began to feel a pain in his lower back. The pain had bothered him through out the night and he concluded by saying that he should not have eaten so much of the porridge, it was too bared (cold).

Food is often spoken of as bared (cold) or skhon (hot) and not in terms of temperature. To put it simply the coldness or hotness of food is defined by its supposed effects on the body system after absorption. Good examples are water melon which is classified as cold food with a strong cooling effect on the body and ginger which is a typical hot food with a noticeable heating effect. The trick is to find the right balance between ingredients to avoid extreme cooling or heating of the body system.

In my experience this knowledge has almost completely disappeared in the Western culture. Apart from the obvious symptoms (nauseous, cramps) we hardly ever question the things we eat or relate them to our physical problems. Even though there appears to be no scientifically based proof for this ancient view on nutrition I believe that it can’t be coincidental that ancient traditions or religions all point out the importance of use of food.

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