On the Northern tip of Morocco, just east of Tangier, where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, there is a little piece of Spain called Ceuta, in fact further along the coast there is another one as well known as Melilla. The closest for us is Ceuta or Sebta as it is sometimes known in Morocco. It is a tiny place of about approximately 28 square kilometers.
A mere formality of a border crossing and you literally step across from Morocco into a little bit of Europe.
The history of Ceuta dates back to the 5th century BC when it was used by the Carthaginians, who called the city Abyla. It is overlooked by Monte Hacho which is one of the possible locations for the southern Pillar of Hercules, the other being Djebel Musa in Morocco. The Romans took hold of it in A.D 42 and thereafter followed a long period of interesting history of which you can read more about here or here. The enclave has been under European rule for the last 500 years or so.
It is an interesting place to visit, lovely old buildings and statues….
old city walls……
and great views across the Strait to Gibraltar and Spain!
We go across occasionally to do a bit of shopping for things we can’t get in Morocco, and of course to slip in a tapas lunch if possible!
So taking advantage of the public holiday we went across yesterday to stock up on some goodies. Lunch didn’t really happen as we ran out of time and the daily siesta closing time caught up with us!
I was beyond excited to find butternut in the supermarket!! I actually couldn’t believe my eyes as I always go on about how we just can’t get it in Morocco and how much we miss it, so there we have it, three perfectly formed butternuts just waiting to be cooked!! So what to do with them was the question?? Butternut no 1, I decided to simply slice up and roast drizzled with some olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Simple but delicious!
The other thing we get in Ceuta that we don’t in Morocco, is of course pork, so we had the butternut for dinner with some honeyed pork ribs from a recipe adapted from a book by Jenny Chandler, called “The real taste of Spain”, a lovely book inspired by the markets of Spain:
1 kg Pork Ribs
2 Tbs lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs olive oil
Ground pepper and salt
Marinate the ribs in the lemon juice, garlic and pepper for a few hours in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and cook the ribs for about 1 hour.
Remove the ribs and increase the temperature to 220°C. Baste the ribs with 1 Tbs of the pan juices, the honey, olive oil and salt and pepper. Turn and baste a couple of times until the juices start to caramelize. This takes about 20 minutes. These would be great on the barbecue!
Served with some roast asparagus, cherry tomatoes and the butternut from above!