Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Photographic Diary of My Trip: Moroccan Cuisine

One big thing I miss about Morocco? The mouthwatering breakfast at the riad. I DREAM of this breakfast. Imagine waking up to this:

Coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice (this seems to be a big thing in Morocco - they have tons of carts at the main square selling this stuff), Moroccan crepes like baghrir or msemmen (both are really delicious!), and a tray of two types of jams and chunks of butter. I'm planning to recreate this breakfast at home, so look out for a possible future post!

The night we arrived, we decided to explore Jmaa el Fna, the main square in Marrakech. There was so much going on, it was crazy busy and everyone was out. I think it was even more crazier than usual because of Ramadan. At the middle of the square, there are these open tents that serve dirt cheap food - you can get all of the below for about 100 dirhams, equivalent of about $13.

I ordered the mystery meat kabobs and my friend had vegetable couscous. She escaped unscathed, but I didn't feel great the next day. And the day after. And pretty much the entire week and a few days back at home.

I didn't learn. We came back the next day. They make a damn good pastilla (traditionally pigeon pie, but more popularly chicken)

So that's one dining option - the dirt cheap tents where you can grab a meal for two for less than $15. And risk getting sick. But mind you these tents were packed (although almost always with tourists).

Later that week, our tour guide recommended another restaurant, where we found ourselves on a rooftop surrounded by plush seating and a tent with fans (thank god, because Moroccan summers are oppressively HOT!). Check out the dishes below:

Another vegetable couscous.

Tagine with prunes. This was AMAZINGLY good.

Cookies and sweets for dessert

I think all of this, one dish, dessert, drinks and a plate of fruit, totaled 150 dirhams per person, or $20 per person.

After a few days had passed, we realized that the only Moroccan dishes we could find were kebobs, tagines, and couscous. And eating day after day of kebobs, tagines, and couscous can get pretty... tiring. So when we went to Essaouria (a beach town, day trip away from Marrakech where apparently Jimmy Hendrix and hippies would hang out during the 70's), we spotted a hole-in-the-wall Mexican cafe owned by a British couple (random!), called La Cantina, where I gluttoned on fresh OJ, a chicken dish, and homemade cheesecake! Anyway, the point is that I was really surprised at the lack of variety.

Throughout the week, we befriended a lampseller at the souks and asked him what was up with the food. He said it was because kebobs, tagines, and couscous cost the least to make and therefore make the most money. Moroccans have much more to offer foodwise, but you can't really try it without being invited to someone's home for dinner. We were told most Moroccans almost always eat at home, by food that their wife or (in his case) mother prepared. And then he said he would have invited us, but we had told him we were leaving the next day.


Jessica said...

My favorite part of traveling is definitely trying all of the different food. I'm surprised that there isn't more variety for tourists.

amy kelinda said...

Mmm, those look delicious! And it is amazing that you befriended the lampseller who offered to invite you for a traditional home-cooked meal. That would have been such an experience, and reminds me of those travel shows where the host dines with a local family.

tres tippy said...

I think I just drooled at my computer! Everything looks sooo delicious. Thanks for sharing all your travels. I'm living vicariously through your blog till we go to Asia next year :)

Luna Supernova said...

Ohmygosh, jealous jealous!! Morocco is right up there at the top of my travel destinations list and this post has only inspired me more!

I'm travelling alone to Nepal in february though so I suppose Morocco will have to wait a while unfortunately.

The Culinary Notebook said...

The food looks delicious...great post.