Somehow desite not having summer holiday this year I managed to book two long weekends in two weeks Marrakech and Lille , I picked Marrakech because I was thinking of my stomach. Marrakech is a massive culture shock it is impossible to walk down the street without being hassled dragged into shops or asked to smell something. Though it’s hard to browse it’s real experience, pottery , leather & spices.
The food was delicious expected tagines slow cooked with plenty of preserved lemon , saffron ,olives and spices. The ingredients vary slightly meat is chicken or lamb cooked with vegetables, turnips, onions , courgettes , peppers and carrots. The spices cardamom, clove, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric forming Ras el hanout. One stallholder told me his had 24 spices in it. Spices are sold whole then ground to your specifications ensuring they are as fresh as possible.
Moroccan Bread is delicious, walking down side-streets you see tiny bakeries almost under the floor and everywhere there are people driving scooters or pushbikes, loaded with Moroccan loaves of bread, which is delicious, a little sweet like pizza dough. Lovely with jam for breakfast though pancakes were popular too.
Moroccan Salad , I am not sure how authentic it is, but it was served everywhere a nice counterpoint to a hot tagine . Light and fresh salad of tomato , green peppers, onion, garlic , coriander and lemon juice
Grilled Meats mixed lamb or chicken, cutlets and kebabs all spiced and barbequed, sticky fingers ensure but worth it.
As mentioned before I found shopping pretty stressful and the markets in Marrakech itself look pretty European . However one day we went walking in the Atlas Mountains & our driver stopped off at Ismil a small weekly market visited once a month by inhabitants of the surrounding Berber villages .
Men travel for hours by donkey , men only women stay in the homes. tiny smokey restaurants cooked the meat for the men who ate before journeying home. Amazing to see the halal butchers , complete with goat heads on the floor of the market to show how fresh the meat , lots of offal . You got the sense it hadn’t changed for hundreds of years and showed no signs of changing .
Around the river in the Atlas mountains ever inch is used for farming , apples , walnuts , olives every inch terraced and harvested by hand.
After the massive activity in Marrakech , it was really lovely to sit on a sunny terrace with a cup of sweet mint tea and some delicious honey-almon pastries. These pastries are everywhere often served by the 10pcs or kilo.
In fact the one slightly difficult thing about Marrakech is it is dry city, though alcohol can be found it tends to be at horrible touristy restaurant nights complete with bellydancing. In fact walking in the main square , you are constantly approached by people saying “Beer ,Wine , Nice Restaurant…?” Although I think a drink with a Tagine would be nice it’s better to do without.