Today Barnaby went up into the High Atlas mountains – way up into the hills, past the Todra Gorge and everything. He found his way to the village of Aït Hani, where he met some very knowledgeable women, Rabha and Hadda, who taught him all sorts of interesting things about vegetables and couscous and lots lots more.
But the most exciting part was when he came across an old earthenware pot. By the smell, he could tell it was cheese – and quite strong, old cheese at that. It reminded him a bit of his adventures back in Munster, in fact.
So he was quite taken aback when the women assured him that it wasn’t cheese at all: it was butter. No ordinary butter, though – this was the famous aged rancid butter they call smen. It’s kneaded (sometimes with herbs and spices), cooked (although not always), salted and then kept for years until it gets just the right taste. They gave him some with some couscous to try, and he thought it was very interesting.
Four hours later, he still thought it was quite interesting, although he also still thought it tasted quite like he’d been sick in the back of his mouth.