Age-old traditional Moroccan pastry meets new health concern

By Kayla Dwyer

For more than 65 years, the Ougaamou family has kept tradition alive in the 17th century walled medina, in Rabat, Morocco’s capital — but they are one of very few to do so. From a hole-in-the-wall stand they sell sfenj, traditional Moroccan donuts whose tough and greasy exterior conceals a steaming, flaky inside.

“Sfenj? Yes, good, very good — especially with tea, it’s wonderful,” said Youness Elfaleh, 22, whose eyes widen at the thought of the Moroccan oil-fried doughnut. “But I can only eat it one or two times a month.”

This traditional treat may be on its way out of favor even in sweet-loving Morocco.

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Moroccan locals participate in world-wide social experiment

By Kayla Dwyer, photos by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

RABAT, Morocco — “You felt weird vibrations between you and the other person,” said Bouchra Zidaoui, 30, pictured above left. “We don’t usually look at each other’s eyes.”

But Zidaoui, of Rabat, did just that — for one uninterrupted minute with 19-year-old Basma Boujendar, right, on the grass outside the Comedy Cafe off Mohamed V Avenue in the center of Rabat, Morocco’s capital. Nearly 100 people joined her on October 15 in Rabat for what’s being called “the world’s biggest eye contact experiment” by The Liberators International, a social movement that organizes public events encouraging people to connect.

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Moroccan media outlet launches amid press crackdown

By Kayla Dwyer

CASABLANCA, Morocco – With less than a week before the launch of their news website, about a dozen journalists huddled around computers in a small, modern office, the sun streaming in glass windows that overlook the streets of Casablanca, as they put finishing touches on one of their stories involving government internet surveillance of Moroccan citizens.

“We are old new pioneers,” said Ali Amar, publisher and co-founder of Le Desk, which will go live online today. “We don’t know how the readers will react, but if we succeed, we think there is huge opportunity.”

In a country where independent press has nearly disappeared, this team of journalists is trying once more to bring reporting on hot button issues to Moroccans.

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