And now, of course, for the favorite part of all my trips... the FOOD!
What about Moroccan food is so great? The PRICE. An "expensive" dish is at most 10 EUR, and that's you getting ripped off. So of course, even if it tastes bad, because of the dirt cheap prices, you won't be wishing that you had just swallowed you money instead of eating the subpar food. But, lucky for us, Moroccan food is actually delicious. Of all the foods I've eaten, I can't say I have a "favorite" because there was such a wide variety of food that we tried but my favorite aspect of Moroccan cuisine is the integration of all the rich and colorful spices. Every "tajine" and every couscous dish was bursting with flavor like an explosion in my mouth... actually come to think of it, pretty much everything was a flavor explosion in my mouth and maybe that's why I enjoyed Moroccan food so much - there was a constant party in my mouth.
The most famous little drink that we all associate with Morocco: Moroccan Mint Tea. I can never have enough. The traditional way to make the tea is brew loose leaf black tea and then "rinse" the tea leaves to clean it and then brew it again. The second brew will give you the beautiful amber color of the tea and then you top it off by putting fresh mint leaves into the teapot. You serve the tea by moving the spout high up away from the cup to create bubbles. The last step is adding sugar if you wish. Making and serving tea is like a form of art in Morocco and is a huge part of their culture. So if tea is ever offered, ACCEPT!
My first Moroccan meal was a chicken couscous with veggies. I love couscous and I make it pretty often at home and I'm always proud of how fluffy it comes out making me think I'm some master chef or something. But, after one bite of this and my dreams of being an Iron Chef have been dashed. The couscous was PERFECTION and it was seasoned with some Moroccan spices that tasted oh so mouthwateringly GOOD and although my couscous may be fluffy... it will never be as good as this one.
A traditional tajine is usually meat and veggies or just veggies seasoned and steamed in this pointy pot over a grill. The result? Juicy perfection.
This was a meat tajine with raisins and prunes. The next thing I'm going to say might shock those of you who know me very well because... well I didn't like the meat. It was too chewy and blah. BUT, the raisins and prunes were to die for. Sticky and caramelized from their sugars and the heat of the tajine, it tasted oh so wonderful spread on some bread. MMMM
Looks can be deceiving. The camera caught it's good side.
One of my favorite parts of being in Marrakech was that every night, food stands would spring up in the Medina selling all kinds of Moroccan food. The workers will all come rushing at you trying to convince you that all the stands are the same but THEIRS is where you should eat at. The trick though is to find the places where the majority of diners are Moroccans. So brave your way through the madness and just enjoy the cultural experience!
Our hilarious chefs
The first night, we were sucked into eating at one of the more touristy places and although the food was whatevers, we had a great time thanks to our wonderful chefs.
Delicious grilled eggplant
One of my favorite foods stands within the Medina was recommended by a local Moroccan so you know that it has to taste good. Stand #14 for those of you who like seafood. It was sooooooooo effing delicious and they give you a BOMB tomato salsa type thing. My mouth is watering thinking about it.. sighh
Fried calamares with a squirt of lemon
Morocco is also infamous for their pastries and there's a good reason why. Because they're delicious and you'll eat so much that you'll prob get fat, unless of course you're one of those superhumans who can eat whatever the hell you feel like and lose weight.
Sesame covered peanuts. 2EUR for a big brown bag that'll last you the whole trip. Unless if you're like me and would wake up in the middle of the night for some sesame peanut midnight snackage, then it will only last you 3 days...
Hole in the wall pastry shop where we bought some of our goodies... like the sesame cookies (below)
My breakfast/lunch/dinner. Traditional Moroccan bread that costs 5cents. Freshly made and steaming with the pungent sweet smell of fresh bread. Amazing... especially with some avocado spread on it.
Also part of my breakfast... snack... and dessert is freshly squeezed orange juice. We have this too in Spain but the main difference is that while it costs about 2-3EUR for freshly squeezed orange juice in Spain, it only costs 40 cents in Morocco and they'll refill it for you. And also as an added bonus, sometimes you get a show from your orange juice squeezer. Ours liked to pop up from behind the counter and yell something we couldn't understand. It was definitely entertaining to say the least.
*This next part of my culinary experience in Marrakech is all thanks to a dear friend we met on the trip who showed us around and introduced us to real Moroccan people. So the following are secret spots (to toursists) that I have no idea how to get to because we were either led there or stumbled upon it in a locals only neighborhood!
Avocado smoothies.. on crack. Now, I love me a good avocado smoothie at a boba shop back in California but never have I paid 5cents for one. Cheese and rice! And if the cheap price isn't enough to get you, they lure you in with this fruit explosion that tastes so good it hurts. Chock full of strawberries, kiwis, bananas, dates, and avocados - this "panashi" drink is not for the feint of heart - you might pass out from all the wonderful things going on in your mouth. Apparently this particular smoothie stand is where all the locals go to and there is ALWAYS a large crowd waiting in line because, well, its damn good. Although I don't know the name of the street, look for a small store with a white counter and the man with a beard. You'll know which one it is once you see the beard.
Okay, so this man has a beard too but his beard is very different from the avocado smoothie man's beard. We stumbled upon this place while wandering through a part of Marrakech where there were no tourists in sigh. What caught our eye is the bright blue and white tiles and, yes, a bunch of Moroccan people eating lunch. Anyway, this place is literally a hole in the wall eatery that serves pretty much just soup... oh and tea, of course.
Who knew such simplicty could taste so good. Bread, lentil soup, and a piece of chicken for the grand 'ol price of 1EUR. And free tea for dessert!
Pepper and spice make everything nice
I have no idea where this was bought nor what this is called, but it's a type of soup that has a very nutty flavor and a richness to it without feeling heavy. A very good sending off breakfast soup we ate on our last day.
More doughy goodness eaten with the soup. This was one of my favorites and again, I don't know what it's called but it had a very similar taste and consistency to tortilla. There's also a variation of this that has green onions and a spicy sauce added to it. YUM
As you can see, Moroccan food is ridiculously inexpensive and tastes wonderful. And if you're just as sad that this blog post is ending as I am.. then you have a huge problem, better known as fatass syndrome.