My first, and last, meal cooked with spinach from a can happened one beautiful winter morning. It was Ifrane; quiet, secluded, removed from the plenitude of choices and crammed aisles. I was struggling over what to feed two kids who were used to variety, to availability, to certain meals cooked in certain ways. I was losing sleep over how malnourished they will be, how they are going to lack in vitamins, how their iron levels are going to drop, how little calcium they were getting, how stunted their growth was going to get. As any mom I was anxious to make sure they were well provided for, nourished, satiated. Little did I know then that the brisk, clean air, the hours spent outdoors, the ample locally sourced, seasonal produce, the slow pace and quiet, mixed with home-cooked meals served with love, was worth more than anything I could find on shelves and in freezers. But I learned.
I had known about canned spinach from watching Popeye the Sailor Man as a child but I had never actually come into personal proximity with it. I had always had either fresh or frozen spinach. Always that is until we moved to Morocco. Then, anxious to provide the kids with iron rich vegetables and having few options to chose from I resorted to the imported canned greens. They were not inexpensive, as after all they were imported and I had my reservations about the product. I was not entirely disappointed, however, and managed to make a couple of meals out of one can. The taboo over using canned spinach was hence forever removed from my mind. Given a choice, of course, I would have opted for something different but under the circumstances it was the best I could offer my family. And if I had to do it all over again, I would; this time without losing any sleep.
That meal was cooked on a gas stove, in aluminum pots, using plastic spoons. Rice with ground beef, onions and spinach. Flavored with allspice and lemon juice. Cooked in olive oil with a tad of salt. Simmered in chicken broth made from organic chicken carcass bought from the chicken monger at the marché. The kids not only gobbled down the meal, JR even asked for more. It was not a royal meal of any sort but it was splendid enough for my family and me.