In a celebration of cross-cultural gastronomy, Spanish chef Joanna Artieda recently impressed guests with a spectacular and exclusive culinary pop-up event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Marrakech.
Artieda showcased the harmonious fusion of Moroccan and Spanish flavors last week, unveiling an exciting array of dishes that captivated attendees.
With her roots firmly planted in Spain, Artieda embarked on an unforgettable journey to Morocco, eagerly exploring the vibrant culinary scene and immersing herself in the country’s rich gastronomic heritage.
Morocco World News spoke with the chef, who expressed her excitement to delve into the treasures of fresh, sweet, and organic produce that Morocco had to offer.
“Morocco is a very special country … People here are very creative,” Artieda expressed with genuine enthusiasm. “I love the product, the tradition, the local cuisine, and the royal cuisine. And this, for me, is amazing, as I’ve never encountered such passion and creativity before,” she added.
During her stay in Morocco, Artieda has encountered a multitude of exceptional ingredients and flavors that have sparked her imagination. One ingredient that particularly stood out for her is argan oil, which she highlighted as an exquisite perfume with its fine, sweet, and balanced profile.
Describing Argan oil as an “amazing” and “special” product, she said that it is nearly impossible to have access to it in Spain to use it for cooking.
When asked about her favorite Moroccan traditional dish, the Spanish chef said she enjoyed having tagine. She explained that the dish reflects the real spirit of Moroccan food as it brings friends and families together to eat while speaking and enjoying the moment.
For her, this is the real essence of Moroccan cuisine, expressing admiration for the communal dining experience.
Another element of Moroccan cuisine that she was fascinated with is the “incredible” use of spices, which she was thrilled to incorporate into her own Spanish cooking.
She experimented with rass el hanout, a fragrant and complex Moroccan spice mix, infusing it into churros, a type of fried dough originating from Spanish cuisine. By making churros with ras el hanout and chocolate, Artieda created an exquisite cross-cultural delight.
However, it was the age-old technique of Moroccan lemon confit that captivated the Spanish chef the most, as she expressed her eagerness to experiment with the “special” cooking technique.
She was amazed by the patience and time required to produce the fermented lemons and preserve them, as it takes up to a year to achieve the best results.
When Artieda attempts to make lemon confit in Spain, the results are never as good, she said. But when she makes the same recipe in Morocco, the results are always amazing, admitting that the secret ingredient is Morocco’s organic lemons, which have a distinct flavor.
In a spirit of cultural exchange, Artieda hoped to leave a lasting impact on Morocco’s culinary landscape. She envisioned introducing the Spanish omelette, or tortilla, to Moroccan homes, hoping to bring the same universal joy that it evoked in her homeland.
As her culinary journey drew to a close, the chef reflected on her time in Morocco with profound gratitude.
“If I will take one special, handmade technique back with me to my kitchen in Spain … It’s preserved citrix, especially lemons,” she said.
“The people here in Morocco, the team, everyone worked together and inspired me deeply,” she added.
Besides the spirit of community and collective solidarity, another aspect of Moroccan culture that has fascinated Artieda is the hospitality and Moroccans’ warm and welcoming nature toward guests.
As Artieda concluded her culinary journey in Morocco, her blend of Moroccan and Spanish delights captivated the hearts and palates of guests at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a testament to the power of cultural exchange through food.