Writing about Moroccan food

Food is a big issue for me and for many international students like me

As we have been used to pitching ideas and getting approvals or guidance beforehand, choosing the topic of my story has been the most challenging part. Hence, I was entirely responsible of all aspects of the assignment.

The reason why I chose to do a story about the lack of Moroccan restaurants in Bournemouth and how they’re surviving is not fully personal. It might look like the topic choice is a matter of a personal opinion or point of view, but the idea came from some Bournemouth natives friends. They tried Moroccan food in Morocco and didn’t like the fact that they can’t have it properly in their hometown. Additionally, I’ve been in the city for 5 months now and the food is a big issue for me and for international North African students. The cuisine is known among foodies and has been among the top 10 cuisines in 2015 but still can’t find its place in a multicultural city.

Photo of Moroccan Tagine 
taken by Karim Beraou
Moroccan Tagine
Photo taken by Karim Beraou

The intended primary audience of my story is Moroccan food lovers in Bournemouth. The informations would give them more knowledge about the issue and why they can’t find many restaurants. With my story I’m also aiming to provide insights and informations to potential entrepreneurs considering opening a Moroccan restaurant. The informations given by a restaurant owner would help them get the right business model, and have an idea about the challenges they might face. My other audience is people who can make changes regarding the logistic and immigration issues. Maybe they could realise the challenges faced by restaurant owners. It could be an opportunity to facilitate the process in order to bring chefs from Morocco to the UK for example. It could also be an opportunity for more culinary schools to consider adding Moroccan cooking trainings to their options, as there aren’t many across the UK.

In my opinion, the reporting was okay but I could’ve done better with more interviews and more time. Not everyone agreed for an interview, especially those who could’ve added a lot to my story like the second restaurant owner. I started my story by looking at the stats on TripAdvisor. I gathered as many informations as possible from people such as restaurant owners, food bloggers or customers. Those informations helped me get the structure of my story.

To write my feature, I used simple and clear sentences, easily understandable for non-native English speakers I also used the personal opinion of my interviewees to shape my story. My feature’s original topic was ‘the reasons behind the lack of Moroccan restaurants in the area’, but my interviews did direct me to add how they’re surviving amidst the variety of specialities in Bournemouth. I didn’t face any legal or ethical challenges or issues regarding this, I didn’t have any challenge with consent however all the interviewees preferred audio or written interviews instead of filmed ones.

I used AI to write my feature. After trying different prompts in ChatGPT, it gave me the structure to follow for that paragraph as well as some sentences. I changed one word or two but it was only 2 sentences. I didn’t use AI for images because I believe the food images need to be authentic and real.

The production of the short-form video was very confusing for me. I was not sure if I would do a teaser or an explainer of my story. The reason why I found it difficult was because I didn’t have a variety of footages and clips from restaurants. Yes, Karim was very kind to let me film from inside his cuisine, and shared some pictures with me but the other Moroccan restaurant hasn’t agreed. It left me with footages from one place only. Also, all my interviews were audio interviews because it was convenient for them, so I didn’t have clips of interviews i can put in the short form video. It left me with the option of voiceovers only.

Photo of the food provided in MAKLA 
Photo taken by Karim Beraou
Photo of the food provided in MAKLA
Photo: Karim Beraou

However, I believe it did complement my story because it added visuals of the food and showed what Moroccan food looked like to those who’ve never seen it. In general, I believe viewers would be more interested in trying the food and would remember the informations I presented about it in the video.

Finally, One of the biggest challenges was the short amount of time to create the feature/short-form video and the reflective blog. On the bright side, this assignment taught me that i should always be ready for interview refusals. Also that people would only agree for interviews if you tell them beforehand that it will take less than 5 minutes, and they end up talking for 10 minutes or more.

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