“Eddar el Kebira” is an expression that sums it all up. Literally translated, it means “the big house”. Not big in size, but big on hosting guests, providing food and shelter for those in need, and always open to visitors.
When I was 14 years old and both my grandparents had passed away, I moved back with my parents in the city of Casablanca. One of the things that I remember very well, is how my mother and I prayed that my father does not bring back home with him, everyone he meets upon his return from running errands! Yes, my father had the habit of inviting everyone he meets on his way, sometimes strangers, and insisting on them to join us for their next meal, regardless of the time of the day.
When my mother was not feeling well, as the oldest daughter, it was my responsibility to cook for our family as well as for our guests, and honestly, I had no desire to cook for anyone while I was preparing for my exams. I often expressed my frustration behind the kitchen door about those guests who visited and spent hours chatting over a glass of tea, followed by dinner, then by desert, then with a cup of coffee. I never really understood how my father could insist on constantly bringing these guests home, nor was I ready to think about the richness he sees in that. The more guests he brought with him, the more irritated I would get, and the more my mother got a kick out of it! I remember her laughing till her tears drops, while she asked me to lower my voice so that the guests wouldn’t hear me.
Later in my life, I realized that hosting in the Moroccan culture is deeply interconnected with faith. Furthermore, hosting qualifies for a certain social rank. The more often you host people, the “bigger is your house”, and the greater person you are in the society’s eyes.