A Couscous Friday

Gender inequalities are omnipresent in today’s Moroccan society structure according to Zainab Fasiki. She demonstrates the ongoing disparities in gender roles by following the trajectory of one of the country’s most famous dishes: couscous.

If there is one thing that represents Moroccan society at its best, that is Friday’s couscous. Feasting with the perfectly-dressed slowly-cooked grains, accompanied by all sorts of fresh vegetables, and, why not, raisins and caramelized onions on top is the perfect way to end a tough week. Because yes, life is not always easy in Morocco… you have to spend endless afternoons chilling at the café with your friends, while some lucky duck can spend all the day working at the couscous factory and doing house chores. But luckily it’s Friday; luckily, it is couscous day.

The story of couscous can reveal us one of the greatest secrets of Moroccan society: perfect balance. The absolute harmony in the division of everyday’s tasks grants men and women a fully equal status and is the secret of Morocco’s fair, just and peaceful society. Its success is due to its self-evident simplicity: things are this way, have always been this way, and will always be this way. This natural division of roles avoids unnecessary questioning about gender balance, discrimination and reproduction of inequalities. It is as simple as it gets: Moroccan society is perfect like it is, no need for change.

Like the best things in life, preparing a perfect couscous is a collective effort. Women rise early to go to the market and buy the grains and all the necessary ingredients, while men rest and prepare for the long day ahead. It is imperative that duties are equally shared in Moroccan households: while women meticulously prepare the famous meal in the kitchen, men alternate between long-lasting disquisitions at the local café, and moments of profound spiritual reflection at the mosque before returning home. After enjoying the meal, men are so overwhelmed by the exquisite outcome of the shared effort that they need to take a long nap right afterwards; can you guess who is going to do the dishes?