Hot Hands

“To eat with one finger is the sign of hatred; to eat with two shows pride; to eat with three accords with the Prophet; to eat with four or five is a sign of gluttony.”

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— Bryan Clarke, Berber Village


Traveling on your own is a constant mission. Everyday something new to accomplish with your time. It is my first day in Marrakesh and it took me 20 minutes to locate the right place to exchange my Euros into Dihrams. I am now sitting on a restaurant terrace (cash-laden) under the shade of my hat.

It’s the kind of time I can see how smoking would come in handy – something to do with my hands. But then I have to learn how to be still. I’m dressed modestly – a long black skirt and covered shoulders, but still I am attracting attention. Must be all the sweating – it’s so damn hot my sunglasses are slipping off of my flushed cheeks as I write.

I am holding my fountain pen high up on the barrel so the sticky side of my hand doesn’t slide uncomfortably across the pages and smudge the ink. Do left-handed folk have a hard time writing novellas in hot climates? But that’s probably a dilemma there are solutions to, namely scribes or laptops.

Not only do I write with my right hand, but I am trying to eat with it too. It’s hard without the help of the left but I refuse to pick up the silver fork sitting smugly at the edge of the table. I wonder what all of these curious Moroccans would do if I opened my purse and took out my own pair of portable travel chopsticks.


I clumsily try to eat my hot plate of lamb, prune and almond tagine. It is the first meal I’ve had since I landed and it smells incredible. My stomach takes over and guides my right hand to tear at the meat and prunes – piping hot and sticky with sesame seeds and honey.

I break into the couscous, cheating only a bit with my fork to shovel it into my mouth. I almost cry from the heat. Water, water, water! Please! S’il vous plaît!


Wish I’d paid attention when someone had taught me ‘eating boiling hot food with your hands 101′…

Half an hour later I have put a respectable dent into the tagine and my belly is full. My fingers are burned and yellow-stained from the tumeric-coated potatoes. Sweat is dripping down my leg like a savage.

I’m in Morocco.


  1. Brings back so many amazing memories. When I read your words I feel like I’m right there beside you. Time to throw on my backpack and hitch a ride to … anywhere but here.

  2. beauty! it’s like a mini vacation. from my desk.

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