Jalil Benbili, owner/operator Morocco Unplugged

Look To The Birdie . . . Pop!

Charlotte Narboni
6 min readAug 1, 2017


Now, what could that mean? Look to the birdie . . . POP! Your first clue might be that this is a statement from a non-native English speaker. You would be correct. Those of us in the Anglo world use the form “at” instead of “to.”

Yes, but what does it mean?

In my story it refers to one of the most fundamental actions known to man. The rite is mentioned in the Bible. It’s familiar to both Jews and Arabs. No, it’s not dietary. Has nothing to do with pork. But it does have something to do with one of the fascinating cultural traditions we encountered on our first trip to Morocco some 10 years ago.

Morocco is an enchanting desert kingdom. It’s a blend of ancient and modern jostling for a place ruled by an unelected monarch with visions of a 21st century beyond its history of poverty for all but a privileged few. It’s not without its issues, but still for those interested in colors, light, and a thousand-year-old culture, it’s a magical land. Perhaps that’s why Morocco is so appealing to visitors.

Certain charming (if you’re not the star in the production) traditions persist in this land, even in the famous city of Marrakech. Despite it’s popularity as a tourist destination, Marrakech still manages to evoke a mixture of North African culture and Berber hospitality woven into a tapestry of vibrant colors, warmed daily by the rays of the desert sun.

The Medina, or Old Quarter and market, is a three-mile area surrounded by walls, mosques and landmarks dating back a thousand years. Shops and stands compete for space in the crowded covered souk, the center of merchandising where buyer and seller bargain for goods from the smallest packet of paint pigment to palace-sized carpets.

Each evening at 6:00, the main square, haphazard in its shape and hemmed in by the buildings and entrances to the medina, changes from a large empty space into a Moroccan circus. It is large enough to accommodate the nightly parade of snake charmers, fortunetellers and fruit sellers, as well as merchants and urchins selling trinkets and sweets. All appear magically as the sun starts to fade and the temperature begins to drop.

Carts wheel into the empty square and open into mobile fruit stands. Intricate displays of fresh oranges, grapefruit, watermelon…



Charlotte Narboni

Travels Around My Kitchen…Travels Around The World…Travels Around My Life!