What Will Boston Be Like?

I have not been out of Morocco for almost two years now.  I think it is safe to assume that I will have some surprises come August, when I will arrive in Boston for the first time, alone, and after a 28 hour trip.  Last time I was in the US, I almost cried when I realized how much less flavorful the carrots, eggs, and olive oil are in America.  I was shocked to see men walking around shirtless or with saggy pants, and I was very confused about the “no gun” signs that popped up around Chicago after concealed weapons had been made legal.  It was not easy to readjust, even after only one year away.

I am trying to predict what will shock me and my husband in Boston, both to prepare myself and because I’m sure it will be funny to look back later and see how far off I was.  Here is what I expect to experience when I move to Boston:

  • I will be invisible.  I get a lot of stares and comments as I walk down the street in Casablanca, but I expect to blend in when I am in Boston.  The challenge will be to stand out, not to fit in.
  • It will be surprising how much people drink.  I’ve gotten used to alcohol being mostly out of the picture.
  • The season changes will be amazing.  There was a drought this year in Morocco, so it barely got any colder.  I cannot wait to see the leaves change color and to play in the first snow!
  • My husband will learn new holiday traditions.  I discovered last Christmas that he is not familiar with Christmas music, other than church songs.  He has also never done an Easter egg hunt.  He has a lot to learn.
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Christmas in Morocco

  • Not everyone will know where Morocco is.  If they do, they will ask me if I was afraid of terrorists, if I had to cover my hair, or if I was able to access the internet.  And absolutely no one will understand how I met my husband in Morocco, who is not even Moroccan. (Actually, during our visa application process, the National Visa Center in the US asked my husband to send police records available only to Moroccan citizens.  We suspect that the application was read by a machine, because not many humans could confuse “Central African Republic” with “Morocco.”)
  • It is going to be nothing like what we expect.  I would not be so surprised if what shocks me turns out to be completely different from what I’ve written here!

Have you ever experienced reverse culture shock?  What surprised you about your country?

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‘Tis the Season

Now that Thanksgiving is over, my roommate and I have been able to shamelessly deck out our apartment with Christmas decorations.  We play Christmas music constantly, put cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in everything we eat (or drink) and turn on our flashing Christmas lights in the evening.  Last night when just the Christmas lights were on and I was drinking tea by the window, I felt the same Christmas rush I used to feel for weeks leading up to the holiday when I was little.

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The only snowman you’ll see in Casablanca

Last year, I really missed the US after being gone for several months, partly because I missed my favorite foods.  However, this morning I went running by a sushi restaurant and a Mexican restaurant, and did not feel any (or very much) longing for those familiar cuisines (there are a lot of Asian restaurants in my neighborhood in Chicago!).  My secret, you ask?  Seasonal foods.  I mentioned that I’ve really been enjoying pomegranates.  Well, I’ve also been enjoying pumpkin, first in jack-o-lantern form, then in soup, and most recently in bread.  Bread!  And this morning, as I was listening to Michael Bublé’s All I Want for Christmas is You and chopping vegetables, I thought, why not put more vegetables in bread?  So now I’ve got zucchini bread and carrot bread.  And I’m feeling generous, so I’m even going to share my recipe with you.

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Zucchini on top, carrot underneath, deliciousness everywhere.

1 cup mashed pumpkin/grated zucchini/grated carrot (choose one)

1 cup flour (I used white flour because that’s all I had, and I actually substituted 1 cup of semolina in the carrot bread, which gives it a nice nutty flavor and some more texture)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Baking powder

1 tsp salt

3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup water (I used lemon-ginger juice instead)

1 big spoonful of ginger and of cinnamon (I like it with more spice!)

Mix together and bake for about 45 minutes, and then eat your vegetables!  I guess now you know why I’m not a food blogger…my recipes change each time I make them depending on what I have, what sounds good, and what my mood is.  Have fun experimenting!