“There are several reasons why I left to live in Morocco. Firstly ... I became Muslim in Morocco, so I feel like it’s my second home. Secondly, foods.”
Rabat – Mino was a professional musician in South Korea and had no thoughts of converting to Islam or moving to Morocco when he first went on a trip to the North African country in 2006 to learn about the “Darbouka,” or goblet drum.
His experience in Morocco eventually steered his life in a new direction. “There are several reasons why I left [South Korea] to live in Morocco,” he tells viewers in a Q&A on his Youtube channel. “Firstly … I became Muslim in Morocco, so I feel like it’s my second home. Secondly, foods.”
Mino runs the “Bohemian Kitchen” channel on Youtube, with dozens of cooking tutorials on both Moroccan and Korean meals.
With more than 341,000 subscribers, Mino never fails to impress Moroccans by making some of the country’s most difficult meals. Mino has cooked chebakia, tanjia, couscous, and even pastila.
The self-styled Mino Al Bohemi (the Bohemian in Arabic) tells the story of his move to Morocco and his choice to convert to Islam in a May 2 Instagram video.
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After Mino got married, he convinced his wife to live in Morocco. “We arrived in Morocco and traveled around the country by an old camper, until we found a nice place to live.”
Mino lives in a village near Chefchaouen in the north of Morocco, surrounded by mountains and green fields. He uses basic tools and natural ingredients to pursue his culinary passion, making him the ultimate bohemian cook.
Speaking about his bohemian lifestyle in a Youtube video, he said, “I want to show the world the variety of Moroccan food and how to prepare it in a peaceful way.”
Experiencing Ramadan in Morocco
Mino told Morocco World News about his first Ramadan in Morocco, when he lived in the city of Azrou, 83 kilometers from Fez.
His neighbors invited him to join them for iftar, or breakfast meals, “because they know I [don’t] have a family in Morocco,” said Mino. “They [wanted] me to feel the warmth of family in Ramadan. Hamdullah (thank God), it was so special for me.”
The country’s state of emergency has certainly changed the face of Ramadan and its activities. Mino told MWN how sad it is not to be able to perform Taraweeh prayers, which he misses very much.
Morocco’s Supreme Scientific Council urged Moroccans to adhere to lockdown measures during the holy month, after the closure of all mosques in mid-March. The council issued a press release on April 21 requesting that Muslims perform Taraweeh prayers at home rather than at a mosque to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Still, Mino and his wife see an opportunity to capitalize on their free time with family connection: “We can focus [on] ourselves much more than any other years and we can spend more quality time with our family,” he told MWN.
Making the most of difficult times
Mino never lets difficult circumstances interrupt his passion in the kitchen. On the contrary, he finds Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to work on his cooking skills. The South Korean cook can prepare chebakia with flying colors, as well as harira, Morocco’s iconic Ramadan soup.
He told MWN that he prepares balanced iftar (evening breaking of the fast) and suhoor (pre-dawn) meals with his wife. “We do not eat bread … we prefer to cook Quinoa which is perfectly balanced,” and also eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables.”
“We try not to consume any type of sugar and unnecessary snacks,” he said, amused that he and his wife have probably already lost at least three kilos each.
For many, lockdown during Ramadan puts a stop to most of the month’s fun activities, including nightlife and family gatherings. For Mino, nature presents an even better offer. “Al hamdulillah, we are living in the countryside so we can walk around [the] river and climb the mountains near our house.”
The couple is also using the time to embrace their faith. “We study deeply about Islam from online lectures, he said, adding, “Of course we do not stop [taking] new video recipes for our subscribers.”
Like all those who yearn for travels and freedom, Mino looks forward to his post-COVID-19 plans. “I really want to go to many cities in Morocco to discover various local foods and culture,” he said, adding that for now, we should all respect social distancing.
During the period of mandatory physical distancing, Mino hopes that the “distance of our hearts will become closer than before.”
Read also: Falling in Love with Ramadan in Casablanca