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- Posted:Monday, August 3, 2015
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A Foodie's guide to Marrakesh
The epitome of culinary richness, Marrakesh -the heart of the red city, is a foodies wonderland. From the souks enticing you in with their aromatic smells, to the more upscale restaurants who have more than a hint of Parisian chic, your tastebuds will be in a constant state of stimulation from the moment you touchdown to the moment you leave.
Moroccan cuisine is distinct and was originally influenced, over the centuries, by interactions with the tradesmen of the Berber and Andalusian cultures. However, this is also a city that takes cues from their european friends and in particular, France. French culture is not only seen in the language used in Morocco but by the actual city of Marrakesh itself. The influence of the French can be seen in the cuisine here, and also in architecture, music and art. Here are a few tasty suggestions to satisfy the foodie within you:
First things first, breakfast! Fresh is best is the motto here and as it should be. However, looking at all the croissants, pastries and delicious carb loaded options, the connotation that freshness means healthy is swiftly dismissed. The French influence is strong, especially at breakfast, and pain au chocolats rule the roost. Try Cafe Glacier L’Opera located on Avenue Mohamed VI, Hivernage. A double serving of the homemade crepes with a side of people watching is highly recommended.
Lunch is the largest meal and includes several courses which is why most families keep it simple by eating their lunch at home before heading back to work. Starting with a mix of vegetables and salads followed by a tajine or stew, this is a much more lavish meal than your standard tuna sandwich and bag of crisps. One option could be to head to the market, grab some supplies and find a quiet spot to DIY your own Moroccan feast. The souks around Djemaa el-Fna - Marrakesh’s main square will contain everything you could possibly need.
For those that want a more hands-off and authentic approach, try Souk Kafé located on 11 Derb Souk Jedid for their speciality lamb stew. The couscous is as Moroccan as it can get and the rooftop patio is a hit in the warmer months. Vegetarians are catered to extensively with the menu offering up an assortment of not one, but six cooked savoury salads.
Dinner-wise, you probably won't be hungry until 7 or 8pm which is perfect as this is the usual time when dinner is consumed. As we all know, it is a universal rule that all good things are usually well hidden, which is even more of a challenge when you're a tourist. For a truly off the beaten path experience, check out the difficult to locate (bring a map) Ksar Essaoussan located at 3 rue Essaoussan, Medina. From the atmospheric candlelight corridor leading you to your table to the fountain that dominates the centre of this townhouse restaurant, the food only adds to the magical vibe of this place. Indulge in the five course set meal ranging from a simple orange salad to tajine, couscous, mint tea and pastries, all at a very reasonable price considering the setting.
Finally, there is no escaping the tea culture. Marrakesh and Morocco as a whole, favour the humble tea over alcoholic drinks (although there are plenty of watering holes scattered throughout town). Just as many destinations entice you in with an array of delicious cocktails and beers to please the senses, Moroccan tea takes on the same role – leaving you yearning for more while also filling you with regret the next morning for drinking too much of this irresistible sugary goodness. I'll leave you with this famous Maghrebi proverb to sum up why you can't leave town without sampling this minty delight:
“Le premier verre est aussi doux que la vie,
The first glass is as gentle as life,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l'amour,
the second glass is as strong as love,
le troisième est aussi amer que la mort.
the third glass is as bitter as death.”
by Jasmin Hassan