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Marrakech, Morocco: What & Where to Eat!
Me: Dining on a Rooftop in Marrakech
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Exotic, sensuous, mysterious and delicious are wonderful ways to describe this international city. When my husband and I went to Morocco (me for the first time and he for he second), our senses were overloaded. GORGEOUS exotic architecture, intricate zellij ( tiles), fine hand-woven carpets, exquisitely embroidered silk cushions, gleaming brass plates, delicate silver tea sets, and magnificently decorated lanterns were just some of the wondrous things that filled our eyes. Our noses were tantalized by the outdoor markets that sold cinnamon, mint, cardamon, cloves, nutmeg and several other spices. The sinuous melodies of horns, flutes and stringed instruments in the main square filled our ears as snake charmers and street musicians performed for tips. If you ever have the chance to go to Marrakech...GO!
Before our departure, I made a list of all the sites I wanted to see and all the foods I wanted to try. The following is a list of traditional items found in Morocco. You will notice that the use of nuts, spices and sweets are often mixed with meats for an unusual, but delightful taste.
WHAT TO EAT IN MOROCCO:
Tajine: dishes cooked in traditional cone shaped ceramic pottery (see photo). During our trip we had several and all of them were good:
lamb with figs and walnuts (rich and sweet)
chicken with raisins and almonds
chicken with lemon and olives (very savory)
beef with prunes and onions
Cous-Cous: also cooked in tajine with or without meat. We tried beef cous-cous and vegetarian cous-cous (very filling dish)
Harira Soup: tomato based with chickpeas, lentils and pasta
Bastila (or Basteeya): phyllo pastry filled with chicken, raisins, spices and topped with cinnamon and sugar
Brochette: shish kebab usually of fried lamb
Kefta: spicy meatballs in rich tomato sauce with a fried egg in the center
Fekkas: very delicate biscotti with nuts
M'hancha: almond pastries- some are flavored with hint of orange
You can find these foods in the Jemma El Fna main square at night when all the food stalls are open (now THAT is quite a cultural experience since the locals are all out eating dinner) or if you crave a quiet restaurant, there are several in the medina. One that my husband and I found that we liked so much we went there twice was: Restaurant Cafe Berbere that served tasty 3 course lunch specials. It is located onff the square in Derb Dabachi # 38, Fondek El Messioui #26. Tel. 06 50 23 62 04. The interior is very colorful and charming and cool, which was a real relief after being out in the hot desert sun. NOTE: dessert is usually choice of homemade yogurt (absolutely delicious) or Moroccan oranges with cinnamon- the oranges are out of this world. The best I have ever eaten (even better than Florida, California or anywhere in Brazil). During the day, you can get fresh squeezed orange juice from the many stands in the square- dirt cheap and amazingly good.
Here are a few NON FOOD RELATED things to do when you go:
Les Baines de Marrakech: total pampering spa experience in the most gorgeous spa I have ever visited. By far a luxury that everyone should treat themselves to and it's affordable. My husband and I booked together and we were both tended to in the same room, so if your hubby or boyfriend is intimidated, he won't be alone (oh, and my husband LOVED it). For more info, check out the site: http://www.lesbainsdemarrakech.com/
Adresse Boutique at 67 Souk Kchachbia Medina off the main square is the place to go if you are looking for rugs, clothing or hand made crafts. All the items are made by local women and its FOR local women, so it is a cooperative. The woman who helped us pick out a rug was friendly, polite and NOT PUSHY (like the aggressive salesmen in the medina). It's hard to find because it's tucked in a corner, but so worth your trouble. For more info here is the email: firstname.lastname@example.org (they speak English, too).
After you have seen the main attractions (Medersa Ben Youssef, Qoubba almoravide, Museum of Marrakech, Dar Si Said and Jardim Majorelle), don't leave Marrakech without checking out the Maison de la Photographie! This small photograph museum contains several floors of historic photos and a rooftop cafe where you can sip tea or eat lunch in the shade with a sweeping view of the city.
Tips for your trip: The national languages are Arabic and French- some English is spoken in the main square, but not outside of it, so bring a dictionary. Dress for comfort and modesty (especially women). While we saw women in shorts and miniskirts, they were getting the kind of male attention that is NOT good (degrading). Bring a hat, sunscreen and lightweight (but not see through) fabrics. Their culture is very different from our western one, so keep an open mind and you may learn something valuable.
Shukran (Thank you) for reading!
C. De Melo
Author & Artist