Wondrous Words Wednesday {1}

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy over at BermudaOnion’s Weblog. The idea is to share new words you’ve learned through reading, or spotlight words you really love.

This week’s list of wondrous words is coming from Morocco: A Culinary Journey with Recipes from the Spice-Scented Markets of Marrakech to the Date-Filled Oasis of Zagora by Jeff Koehler. Even though I’ve been taking my time reading through the thoroughly enchanting history section at the beginning of the book, I’ve still accumulated tons of new words. I guess being exposed to a new culture will do that (not that I’m complaining). 🙂 Some of these words I was at least familiar enough with to get an idea of what they mean in a sentence, but most are new to me, since I haven’t been exposed to Moroccan culture or food until recently. Also, some words have multiple meanings, but I’ve included only the ones relevant to the book I read them from. I’ll be breaking up my word list into a few different weekly posts, because there are just sososo many!

On with the sharing of the learning:

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“It seems to me that this is in part due to the culture’s highly developed sense of visual artistic expression, with the long tradition of arabesques, in repeating and interlacing patterns used for decoration — on walls, in carpets, covering ceramic zellij tile mosaics — and the flowing forms in Arabic calligraphy.” – on the visual attention paid to presentation of dishes

ar·a·besque [ar-uhbesk]
1. a sinuous, spiraling, undulating, or serpentine line or linear motif.
2. any ornament or ornamental object, as a rug or mosaic, in which flowers, foliage, fruits, vases, animals, and figures are represented in a fancifully combined pattern.
3. decorated with or characterized by arabesques: arabesque design.


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terra cotta tilework covered with enamel in the form of chips set into plaster; one of the main characteristics of the Moroccan architecture, consisting of geometrical mosaics made of ceramic used mainly as an ornament for walls, ceilings, fountains, floors, pools, tables, etc.


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“Remaining strong, even vital, is the tradition of the weekly souq that gathers together fruits and vegetables, spices, livestock, and whatever else might be bought, sold, or traded. In the countryside, and especially at crossroads towns — Ouazzane in the north, Agdz in the Drâa Valley, Tiznit and Guelmim in the south — sprawling, weekly markets gather on the outskirts and draw thousands from the region to the selection of products brought in from the countryside: heaps of yellow melons dabbed with identifying markers of paint, papery purple red onions, clementines, boxes of sticky dates, mounds of small, pointed almonds and dried turmeric roots.”

an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter in Middle Eastern or North African cities

Djemaa El-Fna in Marrakech: As the sun travels across the sky, orange-juice vendors make way for healers and henna tattoo artists, who scoot over for snake charmers, astrologers and acrobats. Around dusk, the storytellers begin their epic tales, and cooks cart in the makings of 100 restaurants specializing in barbecued everything, tasty cooked salads and steaming snails.

Djemaa El-Fna in Marrakech: As the sun travels across the sky, orange-juice vendors make way for healers and henna tattoo artists, who scoot over for snake charmers, astrologers and acrobats. Around dusk, the storytellers begin their epic tales, and cooks cart in the makings of 100 restaurants specializing in barbecued everything, tasty cooked salads and steaming snails.

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Sources: Morocco, dictionary.com, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet, Pinterest



11 thoughts on “Wondrous Words Wednesday {1}

  1. Oh my gosh. How did I not know about this meme before?! Just when I thought I was done with memes for good, I’m almost convince to join in on this one. I LOVE WORDS!!!

    Love this post, Leanne! One thing I’ve regretted when it comes to my Urth Words lists is that I didn’t make note of which page my words were on in the book, because now I’d love to go back and share the sentences they came from (you know, for context). I love that you’ve done this here!

    I’ve known the word “arabesque” for years, due to ballet dancing, but it’s rare for me to see it used in this descriptive context. Zellij is completely new to me. I’ve heard/seen the word “soukh” before and always liked it, but never really knew what it was. Can’t decide which spelling Iike better.

    (omg this post is so much fun!!! C-R-A-P, I think I’m going to start keeping a notebook when I read, just for this meme. [A separate one from my Urth Words notebook, of course])

    • I know! I wasn’t going to get into any memes but looked at what was widely available out of curiosity this morning. Then I saw this, and I was like OMG DOING. I actually hadn’t made a note of any of the words in my recently read books (or this one) until I saw this meme. It was no big deal to skim back through what I’d read of Morocco to pull the sentences, though, since I’m only 40 pages in. And I really couldn’t resist adding pictures! You know, since I’m completely enamored of the entire country now. (Thanks, Laini Taylor. Gosh.)

      Morocco has a lot of slightly different spellings for words I’ve seen mentioned, especially culinary ones. I think they’re the closest literal translations to English, rather than the more Anglicized versions we’re probably familiar with (like Marrakech vs Marrakesh). I tend to like the versions I’m learning from Jeff Koehler better. They feel more exotic, and right. ^_^

      Haha yesss I hope you do start this meme because you know I love reading stuff like this!

    • They are good ones! I was familiar with arabesque but only vaguely – had to look up the actual definition, and I had no idea it had so many different ones. All of them are lovely and artistic though. 🙂

  2. Leanne, these words are wonderful, especially since one of my critique partners was writing a novel about Morocco, and she mentioned “souq” many times. One of my children had a piano piece called “arabesque”- your definition fit the flowing melody of the song. Thanks especially for including pictures.

    • You’re very welcome! I can’t help but see images of all the lovely things the words in Morocco are describing as I read them. I figure it’s only fair to share some of them with anyone taking the time to read this post.

      Your critique partner’s novel sounds lovely already! I’ve just recently been introduced to Morocco through YA fiction and instantly fell in love with it (so much so I immediately bought two cookbooks for the region, and started a Pinterest inspiration board). I can’t get enough of it, it seems.

    • And thank you for hosting! I make note of words I find in books all the time that I look up but I wouldn’t have thought to make it into a feature.

      Arabesque also has definitions of “a pose in ballet in which the dancer stands on one leg with one arm extended in front and the other leg and arm extended behind” and “a short, fanciful musical piece, typically for piano.” I just chose to leave those out since they didn’t apply to the Morocco book. 🙂

  3. Okay, I don’t even think I’d know how to pronounce these words! I definitely wouldn’t recognize them if I saw them in a book. (Except arabesque, that one sounded familiar.) I love that you supplied images with each one. They’re absolutely beautiful! More than anything it makes me want to run off to Morocco. Can you add that as one of our stops when you finish that teleporter machine? 😉

    • Yes of course it will be one of our stops! Really it would be one of those “next stop: THE WORLD!” things and we could be overly dramatic and poof in and out of existence all the time.

      If you think this post makes you want to go to Morocco, just wait for the (non)review I have in the works for the book. 😀 I’m going to make everyone just as obsessed with that country as I am so that someone will build us a teleporter out of sheer supply and demand principle.

  4. Pingback: Book Bloggery Week-in-Review (15)

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