Distilling orange blossom and rose petals

It is in the dark kitchen that you must watch the working of the still, the brazier, the mass of red copper, the brightly dressed servant, the whiteness of orange blossom and the softness of rose petals which produce the intoxicating smell. The whole atmosphere is violent and mysterious, which is doubtless necessary for the distillation of these subtle perfumes.

A kanoun and a qettara are the essential equipment. The qettara or copper still is divided into three: the lower part an ordinary taoua in which the water is boiled; on top the kskas with holes in it, to hold the flowers, and finally the qettara, a receptacle with two tubes, one to take the steam from the water which has just come through the petals and let it cool, the other used for emptying the still when the water intended for the purpose of condensing into steam is reheated. In a bottle placed at the end of the first tube you will obtain 12 pints of this precious liquid, ready for use in the kitchen or as toilet water.

From Madame Guinaudeau’s Traditional Moroccan Cooking: Recipes from Fez, first published in 1958 as Fès vu par sa cuisine. Mme Guinaudeau, a Frenchwoman married to a doctor practicing in Fez, lived for more than three decades in the city where she researched and wrote the book.

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