On the Sacred Loci of the Henna Souq, Fes.

A Homecoming

The Henna Souq has a determinable atmosphere, defined by the wind in the leaves of its two plane trees and the towering building of the 13th Century Maristan at its heart. Lining the small square are little shops, some of them no bigger than three metre square, of which around half are cosmetic herbalists. There is also the old weighing scales, which are still used today when large quantities of herbs are brought here by merchants. It is the home to Simohammed, a friend to many in the city, who operates one of the shops alongside his brother. Always inviting visitors to sit and drink tea with him, it easily becomes a rest-stop on a day of earnest wanderings up and down the hills of the medina. The chance you get to sit in the presence of the square is often enough to reveal just a hint of its magic. 

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Cannabis Sativa: A Translation from the Garden of Blossoms

Essential Description: Belonging to the Kfūf family of plants, its leaf resembles that of potentilla reptins, grown in gardens and near water, and is divided into two types: masculine and feminine. 

The masculine does not produce fruit, but the feminine does. They are known by the names Shahdānij and Shahdānī respectively (meaning Sultan of Love). It is soaked and macerated much like flax, to produce ropes and cloth. Known to the general population of the Maghreb as Qinab. It is grown in great quantities in the region of Meknes. 

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The Red Cauldron

The thick red copper cauldron (sṭal – سطل) is rounded perfectly to the base, mottled with spots, it shows years of work, even though to me it is new. Its handles are also perfectly rotund, nailed to the sides with two handmade splints. An arm’s length in diameter, it sits plump on the stove. I fire it up. 

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On Andalusian Gardening: The Hidden Link in the Chain of Horticultural History

Did you know, that at Cordoba, in the 9th century, the gardeners of Abd el-Rahman I built the first botanical garden on European soil?

Did you know, that it wasn’t until over 600 years later, that the same was attempted in Christian Europe?

Did you know, that the first tulip came to Europe via Turkey to Spain, 500 years before it was taken to Holland?

What if all the horticultural history of Europe you’ve read, was wrong?

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The Boiling Pot: Spirituality and Herbal Distillation

Distilling with Sherifa

It’s an overcast day in March, occasional clouds drizzling soft trills of rain onto the courtyard.

Optimistically, I set the alembic up in a corner, knowing that unless it pours, we’ll be safe under the cedar beamed edges of the open roof.

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Brewing Soulful Moroccan Tea

Morocco is famous for its tea.

Walk through any Moroccan market and you’ll find fresh fragrant mint being sold in huge bunches, piled high and sold for a dirham.

As you move around the medina of Fes, you’ll find carts laden with fresh herbs. Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, Verbena, Pennyroyal, Wormwood and Sage.

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How we Shop: An Homage to the Journey

You can ask the neighbours, they find it funny too.

Baby strapped onto my back (happy as a clam) and shopping trolley in hand, I swing the heavy iron front door closed and roll our way down the hill.

It’s already eleven in the morning because it takes us so long to get out of the house (we have a long breakfast!), and most of the neighbors are already on their way back.

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