The DVD of Feast Bazaar: Morocco
& Syria is available now from the SBS Shop.
Feast Bazaar is a ten part journey into the labyrinth of mysterious souks, the colour, culture and customs, of two of the most intriguing countries in the Islamic world.
Following on from the success of his first series; ‘Feast India’, English-born Chef Barry Vera gets to the heart of Moroccan and Syrian cuisine, and on the way discovers far, far more.
A message from your host, Barry Vera
I had never been to the Middle East until I ventured to Morocco and Syria. The food and the friendliness of the people were beyond all my expectations.
Essaouira in Morocco was the beginning of my remarkable journey. My first glimpse of Essaouira had been in Ridley Scott’s movie ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. Once I arrived the reality wasn’t disappointing, it was like travelling back in time. All to the tune of the Muslim ‘Call to Prayer’.
That first night, after feasting on the local seafood and encountering my first traditional Tagine, I fell peacefully asleep to the sound of crashing waves, of the Atlantic. It’s not what I expected, it was far more, and for a chef these unexpected discoveries had my mind working overtime. I was treated to fish Tagine and char grilled sardines, plenty of mint tea and the buzz of noisy souks. I felt like an excited child in a Moroccan Disneyland. Each day brought new adventures and discoveries.
One of the most pleasurable things about doing this work is the people I meet along the way. Even a brief chat in the street with a local is fascinating. Their faces can tell a thousand stories about the history of their home. Morocco was more than I could have imagined. The food was both exotic and simple, and the food souks displayed vegetables of a very high quality.
Everybody had time to talk, but more importantly they had time to listen. Unfortunately in our Western world the pace is so fast, we don’t seem to have time to stop and look, never mind listen to what people say.
Now I have to be honest; the idea of going to Syria made me a little nervous to say the least, but any fear I had was overridden by my love of adventure. It is sad how the media can portray a country so negatively, and how wrong they are. Syria was truly remarkable; its history is so rich and colourful. After studying religion at school and learning of John the Baptist, I would have never have thought that one day I would be standing next to his tomb in a mosque in Damascus.
The people of Syria were warm and welcomed us with open arms, inviting us into their homes and into their hearts. The food again was everything it should be and deserves its high reputation. It’s simply done and leaves you with wonderful memories.
The Middle East is about all the good things; family, sharing, friendships, and a love of life, we should all have. Unfortunately it’s marred by constant fighting and worse.
For me coming to the end of a series is a sad moment, filming is finished, voiceovers are recorded and the editors and production team complete this remarkable journey for you to see. I am left with memories that will live with me forever. Sometimes as I work in my kitchen, a simple ingredient will trigger the memory of a moment in the High Atlas Mountains, the markets of Marrakech or my adventures across Syria.
I am humbled by the remarkable journey that I was so fortunate to take. The discoveries I made, the people I met and the memories I will keep forever.
I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did, remember it is just a glimpse of some amazing places, people and food. The only way to fully understand it is to discover it for yourself. Life is too short to be a victim of fanatics. Take the journey.