A taste of Marrakech

For a place such a short flight time from home and only one hour's time difference, Marrakech is a world apart. We were staying in a riad in the Medina and had not the receptionist arranged to come and meet us somewhere central we would never have found our way through the warren of narrow, packed streets. Saying that, at the end of our stay we could easily find our residence and return to places in the Medina we had marked for a return visit.

The first task after some rest was to get oriented and what better to do that than getting lost? Really?

Friendly passers-by shouted out directions, even urging us to follow them and suggesting visits. The pungent odour of where we had been directed to was not what we had been expecting. It was an open air camel tannery with stone troughs where the hides were pummelled and stretched. We were offered a large sprig of mint to sniff away the smell but politely declined and made off. But to where?

The friendly passers-by were nowhere to be seen. After a short walk we found ourselves in an open air market and attracted the attention of the locals. It was pretty obvious there were no other tourists and although there were curious glances they were also friendly and welcoming. It was wonderful to see old men approaching each other for handshakes which they held while also touching each other forehead to forehead. A lovely custom. As of course was the mint teas in obvious abundance. Mint tea. We heard that referred to as Moroccan whiskey.

It was a market and there was an abundant array of fresh vegetables and fruit: Aubergines, Courgettes, Celery,  Strawberries, Oranges, Potatoes and Mint everywhere.  We spotted an interesting way of keeping vegetables cool in the warmth.  A shady spot of course where one was available but also a basket type colander suspended over a tub of water in which there was a tin can. Holes had been punched in the bottom of the can and from time to time the vendor would take a scoop of water and let it drip over the basket of vegetables. Simple. Effective.

We followed the wider and busier streets and found our way back early afternoon to the main square Jemaa el-Fnaa  The perfumed scents of oils and spices stimulated the appetite. Time for a sit-down taste of Marrakech.

Not far from our Riad we spotted a small but evidently popular restaurant with panels of its offerings outside. A friendly caller, the owner or staff member perhaps invited us in. He didn't need to ask twice and nor did it take us long to decide what we needed.

Starters arrived. A welcome drink of milk and spices in a sugar frosted glass and bowls of olives, dips and bread.

That was followed by a Moroccan salad topped with falafel while my partner had a Kofta omelette both accompanied by pasta while my own included a portion of chips. I love the mix of vegetables called fatoush and my Moroccan salad had that distinctive flavour.

We asked for some mint tea to finish and this duly arrived with a plate of sliced fruit and a lovely pastry. I think it contained pistachio but there was also the unmistakable flavour of rose water. 
The bill at 110 Moroccan Dirham (MDA) was by no means huge, about £8 sterling, but there was little could be done with our available change to get to the correct amount. So the bill was to my embarrassment settled at 100 mda with the agreement that we would come back and eat there again.
We sure did! Well wouldn't you?

While we shook hands on it we didn't bump each others' foreheads!
And that return visit? The same guy, we were now sure that it was his business, recognised us immediately and escorted us to a brilliant table and even more mouth-watering food. 

On saying goodbye he scribbled out some words in Arabic for us in my notebook which I have mislaid but I remember the sentiment. It was: May a thousand roses bloom in your heart. 
Marrakech certainly bloomed there. 
Would love to go back, our visit was only a taste.

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