Brochettes and cous-cous and Bistilla oh my…..
…..it is a great thing to enter a country with very few expectations as to what it will offer forward as far as culture, food, people, driving conditions etc etc and I am sure it is because of these said few expectations I had about Morocco it is with great pleasure to say that it has exceeded them and blown my flip-flops right off.
Let me point out that when I say few expectations I do NOT mean low expectations, far from it. I had an idea of the cuisine from dishes I have made in the past and I was already extremely excited about what was ahead of us. I also had an idea of what it would be like as far as being a tourist in a country that relies heavy on the tourism industry (we are very well versed when it comes to handling street sellers), but the food and produce here is best described as versatile, steeped in history, fresh, flavorful and as colorful and vibrant as some of the sunsets we have witnessed here…..We have stuffed ourselves with amazing tagines, (Alyssa’s fave is a mini meatball tagine cooked with tomato sauce and finished with an egg)…..
to breakfasts consisting of flat griddle breads called harsha served with honey, oil, melted butter and a nutty spread made from toasted and ground nuts. Needless to say we have eaten well and are now so inspired by the produce that we have a new salad we make everyday for lunch, partly because the produce is so good and cheap and secondly because we are eating mounds of bread at every meal so something had to be done….don’t judge, IT”S SO GOOD!
Eating out here is cheap, not Asia cheap but cheap enough we try to treat ourselves once a day to eat out, we can quite happily be full for dinner for less that $10, breakfast we can get by on $5 and then if we shop, a bunch of herbs is 5-10 cents, a pound of tomatoes about 40 cents (that’s about 25 pence mum) and a large pile of olives-50 cents….see what I mean!
If I may be so bold as to put on the hat of “advice giver for tourism” may I suggest the following. DO AS THE LOCALS DO! That’s it, that’s my wise words of the day. Let me elaborate. Some of the best experiences we have had on journeys past have been a long way from the tourist areas. The other day we were walking through the Medina in Essaouira which is amazing and all the walls, nooks and crannies are lined with flowing silks, colorful tapestries and beautiful traditional leather goods and of course hoards of us “tourists”, shuffling our feet along oohing and ahhing at the goods and trying not to be too interested in any one item in the fear of haggling for 2 hours only to spend 3 times as much as you wanted on the “can’t live without” walking cane with aluminum embossed snake head handle which is a must in all walks of life for the Saharan Berbers!
After the medina we stepped outside it’s protective walls and instead of going straight to the comfort of our van parked by the beach for 2 dollars a day, we turned left and sometimes, that is all it takes….a right or a left instead of the planned route. We followed the droves of people of which maybe 2% were tourists (a great sign of good things to come), and when we passed through a old stone archway we were completely bombarded with olives, flatbreads, spices of all colours stacked artfully into huge pyramids, street vendors selling snails, small skewers of marinated meat sizzling over small makeshift BBQ’s, overflowing stacks of preserved lemons and spicy pickled peppers and all the produce you could dream of and for a 3rd of the price that any other tourist area we have been too (a crepe with honey in the medina….12dh or $1.25 outside only 3dh, so Alyssa couldn’t resist…..it was gooooooood).
This for me is what travelling is about, don’t get me wrong, every so often I do crave and need a break from the constant ‘no thank you, not today, I don’t need fish or a shoe shaped keyring’ and replenish for a day at a real campsite and very rarely, a hotel but we have to recommend stepping out of the comfort zone bit by bit and eat where the locals eat, shop where the locals shop and let your guard down a little…. chances are you will meet the most amazing people, eat the most amazing food and have the best stories to tell…………………all for a 3rd of the price!