Speaking of travel, and Fear
It’s mostly fear
It’s fear, isn’t it?
How to make the money to get there, how to pay the bills that need paying while you’re gone, the cat and dog at home, these are major considerations too. But I was thinking about the reasons we don’t all jump at the opportunity to live with and among the people whose lives we love observing on television. Or reading about in the great travel books.
It takes more than a plane ticket and booking a place to stay to walk among people whose ways are foreign, whose foods and dress, abodes and customs are achingly different to your own. It does take courage too.
The culture shock, the smells, the lack of the familiar – it can seem overwhelming. Or, you can find yourself falling desperately and intensely in love with a place. This has happened to me a number of times. I could imagine living in Lisbon or New York or Paris. I could see myself living in a small riad, in some part of Morocco. Perhaps Fez or even further north, away from the bustle of Casablanca.
But, then in 3 out of four cases I would have to face my fear of learning a new language, sounding odd speaking it, struggling with poor tense and ill chosen words, in order to enjoy the country like a citizen would. It comes so easy to the tongue for some. My Polish friend Gata (have you heard or tried to read Polish or Hungarian?) says that growing up learning Polish prepares you for ready absorption of any other language. They are all easy by comparison. I still think it involves courage.
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But the thought of buying fruit at the market, asking the butcher for a specific cut of meat, glaring at a vendor knowingly when he’s trying to offer me the ‘tourist’ price, making friends with non-English speakers and reading signposts, notices and books (oh, let’s be realistic: booklets) in that language, has an appeal all of its own.
Well, apart from catching a deadly virus in a place that you can’t speak the language or having no internet signal, what do you fear when you venture abroad? I think even the most seasoned travellers must harbour some fear, though keeping on the move all the time is a sure-fire way to have no time to address them…a superb strategy too.
I share my thoughts on Fez in the next post, and a recipe for a beautiful chicken tagine, made in a tagine pot I bought at the market in Fez, here.
This recipe is based on Paula Wolfert’s Chicken smothered with Tomato Jam from her marvelous book, The Food of Morocco. She understands Morocco, the people and the food so well.
- I’ve adapted the method to prepare the tomato jam separately from the tagine, because I found removing the chicken part way through cooking, cumbersome. The sauce will only cook down once the chicken is removed, so I do it in another pan.
- Using chicken pieces with the skin on, will give a richer dish.
- Read the instructions set out – you should have the chicken and tomato going at the same time. I used a medium sized tagine (bought in Fez).
- Don’t let an old fashioned glazed tagine come in contact with an open flame or even an electric stove. Use a diffuser. It’s an inexpensive pockmarked metal disk, with a wooded handle and available from most down-town household goods traders – try Oriental Plaza in Johannesburg, for example.