This year, I planted a lemon tree in the yard, and the four orbs of fruit it bore this year just transformed from green to yellow. I’ve been thinking about something special to do with these lemons. And as I did, my thoughts turned to a trip I took to Morocco with my late mother.
It was a group walking trip, and every day we visited the spectacular sites of Morocco; Fez, Marrakech, the High Atlas Mountains, the Sahara, the Casbah. We had two guides, one named Saida, one of the few female guides working in Morocco. She knew her country well and had a great sense of humor. She also provided us with snacks on the trail, and one of those snacks was the most delicious lemon cookie I’ve ever tasted.
I asked her for the recipe and she willingly gave it to me, but between 2008 and 2022, the slip of paper has disappeared. I remembered that it was lemon, had no wheat, and contained almond flour. So I searched on the internet for “Moroccan lemon almond cookies,” and I found Ghriba.
“I’m going to make lemon almond Ghriba cookies,” I told my friend Kim, who lives in Florida and has many lemons to contend with. “I’ll let you know how they turn out, and I’ll share the recipe if they turn out well.”
I plucked two of the lemons from the tree and brought them inside. Time slowed, and I thought, “I’ll use the mixing bowl that belonged to my grandmother that Aunt Mary gave me.” Then I sought a mixing spoon and thought, “I’ll use the wooden spoon that says ‘See. Food. Write.” that my friend Ben gave me as a present when I moved to Sacramento.”
I separated the eggs and measured out the dry ingredients, juiced and zested the lemons and cut the butter into bits. I mused about what to do with the cookies, and decided that I would bring them to Seattle with me, so that my son, Emile, and his wife, Kelly, could try them.
I formed the sticky dough into balls and rolled them in powdered sugar. I put the pans in the freezer, then in the oven. The scent of lemon filled the air. I managed to let them cool for a few minutes, then bit into one. It tasted like Morocco.
Standing in my kitchen, I felt far from alone. I had gathered so many people to me, some thousands of miles away, others no longer alive, to participate in the baking of these Ghriba. I looked back in the past to and into the future. I traveled from Sacramento to Morocco to Florida to Seattle, all from the comfort of my kitchen. And I knew that I had found the greatest riches in those lemons from my lemon tree.