Moroccan native enjoys making foods from home country
Wafaa Nagib lived in Marshalltown a few years ago and returned a year and a half ago with her husband and two children. A native of Casablanca, Morocco, she feels at home in Marshalltown.
“I like Marshalltown because it’s calm. Casablanca is very busy. It’s like New York City. It’s beautiful, but it’s crowded,” she said.
Nagib’s native language is Arabic, but she also speaks French and English. A stay-at-home mom, her dream is to open up her own restaurant, which would serve the cuisine of her native country.
Some of her favorite dishes to make for friends and family include couscous (a North African dish made from tiny steamed balls of semolina flour). She serves it with chicken, butternut squash, turnips, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, brussel sprouts, chickpeas, jalapeños and a special broth. The couscous is steamed for several hours with the other ingredients cooked separately.
“We eat it together as a family. We put it in the middle of the table,” she said. “In Morocco, we do that meal every Friday.”
Nagib also makes Seafood Bastilla, a pastry made from filo dough, stuffed with fish, shrimp, vermicelli, mushrooms, green olives and spices. Harcha (or harsha) is a Moroccan pan-fried bread made from semolina flour. She makes cookies using almonds and orange blossom flour. A flavored green tea is a popular beverage she makes.
“Cooking is a passion. I have a diploma in cooking and baking,” she said. “I cook every day. I mainly cook Moroccan food, but I also like Italian. Moroccan food is a lot of work and it’s rich with ingredients and spices. Some spices I use include saffron, preserved lemon, paprika, cumin and a Moroccan hot sauce.”
Nagib also has a French degree as an administrative assistant. She lived in Washington, D.C. for a time before relocating to Iowa with her husband Aziz — also Moroccan — who moved here for his job. She said someday she’d like to earn a degree in nursing.
Nagib has been in the U.S. for eight years and enjoys making visits back home.
“A lot of people talk of Morocco like it’s a desert, but just the southern part is. When you go there, you feel like you’re in Europe. The weather is very comfortable,” she said. “Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States (in 1777).”
Her immediate family still lives in Morocco. Her father works as a tailor making purses for brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci.
“When I came from Washington, D.C. to Iowa it was a big difference, but I like Marshalltown, especially since I have Moroccan friends here. It’s a nice place to raise kids,” she said.
For more information, she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or her Facebook profile: Wafaa Elmtioui Nagib.
Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at