Grabbing a Bite in the Moroccan Market
Eat your way through the medina.
A Moroccan market experience is unlike anything else. It's not your typical Stop and Shop or Publix. In most markets, there are areas dedicated to food and restaurants. However, produce and food carts are also scattered within the medina walls.
Fresh sardines are the fish of choice in Morocco. Vitamin D and protein packed, these small swimmers make a delightful addition to a sandwich. In the Moroccan market, stalls display heaping piles of golden maakoda (fried potatoes), charred green peppers, crispy sardines, fried eggs and roasted eggplant. Extras include a spicy tomato juice and chopped, raw onions.
Items can be bought individually or you can create your own sandwich. I love getting everything thrown in. The crunchiness of the fish contrasts with the smoothness of the egg, especially as the yolk bursts open. A hit of spice and sharpness comes from the raw onions.
1 maakoda - 1 Durham
Moroccan markets are a breeding ground for intoxicating smells. Fumes of roasting chicken, charcoal cooked meat and anise infused pastries waft through the narrow alleys. Huge griddles laden with caramelized onions, beef sausages, chicken liver and ground meat beckon pedestrians. Skewers of seasoned turkey brown over embers and piles of bread are held in wicker baskets.
1 sandwich with any meat - 5 Durhams
1 sandwich with sardines and veggies - 5 Durhams
1 sandwich with sardines, veggies and eggs - 10 Durhams
Most fish stands offer a large variety of roasted veggies to choose from. If you want some protein, add a fried egg to your sandwich.
Chickpeas and lima beans
Big cauldrons of chickpeas and Lima beans are boiled for hours until tender. Vendors will ask if you want a spice mix tossed into your chickpeas. Your answer should most definitely be yes. The mix contains cumin, salt, paprika and some cayenne pepper. You won't find this street food during the day so look out for it in the afternoon and evening.
Chickpea water can be used as a thickener in recipes.
Try searching for the chickpeas right outside of the market.
If you want to try a tasty broth, ask for a cup of the chickpea water. Trust me, it is delicious.
I make a lot of homemade hummus in Morocco. Instead of buying the chickpeas, soaking them and then boiling them for hours on end, I buy about 20 Durhams worth of the boiled chickpeas from the street.
Fresh cut coconut and pineapple
In August, a juicy piece of pineapple is the perfect way to battle the heat. Coconut strips are also a fantastic snack to munch on as you stroll through the market. Rickety wooden carts brimming with produce, including strawberries and grapes, can be found around every corner.
The smell of nougat is intoxicating. Honey, vanilla and nuts come together to create an irresistible confection. In Morocco, this treat is laden with peanuts, pistachios and raisins. Blocks are sold by the kilo or half kilo. Don't be shy when you approach the shopkeeper. If you want to try a sample, ask away.
Nuts and dried beans
In the market, small convenient stores line the busy alleys. Roasted and salted nuts are sold to medina wanderers. Peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios and almonds are readily available for purchase. Old newspaper is torn and fashioned into a cone. The nuts are then poured in. Grab 5 Durhams worth of peanuts to get an energy boost.
Dried white beans, chickpeas and lentils are easily found in the market. Before you cook with lentils, make sure you clean them. Small rocks and other debris needs to be picked out of the lentils before consumption.
In the market, reedy stalks of sugar cane are pressed in a machine. The juice is poured into a cup and topped off with a dash of lemon juice. Try this beverage the next time you feel dehydrated.