Healing Journey

Large Portions in Morocco by Brea Persing

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I have always found it fascinating that Moroccan men would look at me and not think I could eat what I had asked for. Mind you, I was about 125 lbs at the time and I couldn’t consume any carbs and hadn’t been able to for a few years at that point. But, to be fair, they’re coming from a cultural background where one would eat a lot of bread with every meal, of which I could not partake in.

I found, through conversations with friends, that in Morocco they have a woman’s portion and a men’s portion in restaurants. When I found this out, I immediately would ask for the men’s portion. They would look at me like I was crazy.

There was one time in Chefchaouen where they didn’t give me a lot to eat, so I ordered two tajines because I was still very hungry after the first one. And it was really good and still my favorite tajine to date. It was a delicious, fall off the bone chicken tajine with a hint of tomato, cumin, saffron, cinnamon and black pepper. Normally it would come with potato and carrots in it, but I asked them for green beans instead of potatoes. I can still taste it as I write about it. So yummy!

Then, on the road to Merzouga from Tangier by car, my friends and I stopped in a small town to get something to eat and I ordered a half a chicken. The Moroccan guys who were with us thought I was crazy and said that was no way I would finish it. Mind you, it’s all I could eat. Not only did I finish it, but also another piece from a friend who wasn’t going to finish his. Keep in mind, I hadn’t eaten much in the last 24 hours and I wasn’t sure when we would stop at a place that I could eat again, so I really made sure I was good to go.

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In Meknes I ordered a meat dish with some carrots and asked for a double portion of meat. The man said no to me! He said there was no way I could finish it. With some persuading, he gave me a double portion. I ate the whole thing and his eyes were wide when he realized it.

You see, when you can’t eat carbs, you are “forced” to eat more protein and vegetables to fill you up and give you energy.

Even outside of Morocco, I would get stares from people. It was very uncomfortable, but very necessary. I even remember times where I would eat a full dinner and be hungry 30 minutes later and eat another whole meal. This was due to not being able to eat carbs and my body was malnourished because I couldn’t process the nutrients that were coming in. My body was so sick! I didn’t go carbless out of choice, it was out of necessity because I couldn’t eat anything, with the exception of carrots, that had carbs in it. It took a toll on my body. My food was so limited. It was like a super strict Keto diet. Haha…that was way before Keto was even around. I used to tell people I ate high fat Paleo with modifications because that is the closest I had to describe it. I have come a long way since then! People used to ask me if I was sad about the things I couldn’t eat. I struggled with it, but after a while, I had finished the grieving and moved on. I started to focus on what I could eat and celebrate those things! 

Before I used to make a list of the things I could eat, now I’ve been able to add so many foods back into my diet that I have a list of the things I can’t eat now. It’s still daunting for someone to look at who’s never dealt with food allergies, but for me, It’s a major celebration. It’s so much easier for me to find food when I’m out! I no longer need to order double portions, or even be afraid to eat out. I’m still nervous at times, but it’s still so much easier than it used to be, and I am very grateful!