The zwîna house of the Marrakshi henna artist

Entering a Marrakshi household on a non descript Wednesday evening is an experience filled with warmth, welcome and sharing.

As the Henna artist and cook of the Henna Café in the north-west of La Medina, Fatima has been a practicing Nquasha (master of an artform) for over 26 years and a producer of local cuisine exquisites.

A small courtyard with scooter, clothes line and a picture of the atlas mountains greets you through a heavy almost un-openable metal door. We walk into the family room bordered by four benches which doubles as the marital bedroom. This is where the feast of people and supply of food will soon congregate.

As is common in Moroccan homes, the large ‘dining room’, again bordered by ornate benches, is separated off by a key reserved only for expensive crockery, unusual ornate items, boxes of henna paste and families all inviting grand sheep slaying gatherings.

Fatima brings us mint tea, as her husband tunes the tv into Russian news for some background noise. Questions pass back and forth discovering everything about each others customs, customs and when we will be married.

Cousins, nephews and friends join slowly as the normal midweek evening meal commences. Moroccan food aficionado, Fatima brings out two large tagine dishes one couscous with a range of different cuts of lamb, the other a beautifully presented potato, egg and tomato tagine. With family eating what looks like a black pudding of slow cooked jiblets and several strings of small intestine, no part of a Muslims precious sheep is snuffed at.

Apres food consists of my girlfriend having her hair cut by Fatima’s niece after a passing comment about not being able to find a female hairdresser in the medina, as I am entrenched in Fatimas’ son’s tour of his personally designed bedroom with over 1000 satellite channels and trouser press.

A completely unintrusive, welcoming and intruiging evening at what is the Moroccan hospitable mentality and something that can be experienced by all once you open your inhibitions and yes vocabulary to such an enchanting and giving population.

With bespoke and truly personal warmth of the managers/ staff  of Marrakech Riads, your stay in the heart of the Medina will be one that is truly cultural and never forgotten.

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