Marrakech, discover it through the food

Europe is great, such a small part of the world, with so many cultures, different foods, different people and so on. But what about reconsidering your view of «different»? A two hours and half direct flight from Malpensa can change your mind. 

I’m going to describe this adventure with you throughout food.

Marrakech is a one million inhabitants city, where some of them eat arab bread, some can afford dried fruits and cous-cous and the most lucky ones tajines and fish dishes. All of them though don’t drink alcoholic beverages but do drink mint tea. 

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Arab bread is their typical snack, appetizer, sometimes meal and is eaten at almost every hour of the day: it’s a flat bread and it is slightly leavened. That gives it a very soft taste and consistency, it’s good with honey but it can be eaten also by itself as many locals do buying it in the medina banquets for a couple of dirhams, the local currency. 

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Dried fruit is a must here, they have it of all kinds, only for almonds they have three different kinds: sweet, salted or natural. Moreover Moroccans have nuts, dates and many others. they can be bought in the main square, Dar Jemaa el Fna, in banquets where vendors shout at you to try to convince you buying at their stand and not at the others. Next to those stands there are many selling fresh squeezed juices. They are of all kinds, the cheapest and most common is the orange one, but also lemon, apple, kiwi and berries juices can be found. Don’t try do get the better deal, in the square prices are all set equally for both juices and dried fruit.

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Now we enter in a hot topic: the tajine. This is maybe the most typical dish you can find in Morocco, every restaurant will have it on the menu. There are many variation of it, the most popular is the lamb one, but also beef and chicken are pretty usual. There are some vegetarian tajines as well. So what is it? The tajine is a big pot made of ceramic. it usually contains meats, veggies and fruits so to play with a sweet flour savour, that are slow cooked on hammam carbons. it is served right after taking it away from the carbons and its terribly hot. As the waiter uncovers of the pot all the vapours raise and a mix of flavours will inebriate you. There are many places that serve tajine, but only few serve a good one. It is indeed a very difficult cooking process and only if made in the right way gives good results. As I personally tried many of them i strongly suggest two places to eat a good tajine: the first one is “Cafè des épices”, a three floors cafe with a beautiful terrace on the top that gives you a great view of all the city and the square of spices. Also the mint tea there is very pleasant. The best time to go there is in the evening, at sunset time until night. The other one is maybe the most popular and trendy restaurant in Marrakech at the time: “Le Jardine”.  This is a restaurant located in the courtyard of a typical riad, perfectly renovated and characterized by beautiful water green tiles that decor the garden. All the tables are outside and only few of them under the portico. The big black tables are in tiles as well and are orientally decorated with huge candle holders. the Tajine here is delicious and very peculiar since its particularly sweet and caramelized. On the menu thought they have other very particular dishes that mix the typical moroccan cousine with the european and brazilian one. As an entree I tasted the pigeon pie: the meat mixed with spices was trapped in a thin and crispy breading covered in honey lying on a coconut flour bed.

For lunch there are two option: either eating as a tourist or as a local. I tried both so to check which one is the best, and I’m still very uncertain. As a tourist the best place to have a pleasant lunch is “A Dejeuner a Marrakech”, this is well decorated restaurant-cafe, with a colourful terrace on the top. There you can have moroccan- european dishes as well as gourmet sandwiches. Their top dish is the lamb, served with some traditional jams.

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Now, if you want to eat as a local you must go in the new Marrakech. The new neighbourhood of the city is completely different from the medina. Here you can find Zara, mac and all the other occidental shops. Here two places are usually full of locals: MacDonald and typical fish restaurants. We picked the fish one and thank God we did. This big restaurant with a huge table plenty of fish is the best place to eat as a local and has the best quality at a very reasonable price. The fish in these restaurants is always fresh, as a matter of facts it arrives daily from Essaouira and you pay half the price you pay in italian supermarket. So once sit at the table the waiter tells you to go at the big fish table to pick my future dish. I indicated him a big slice of swordfish. they weighted it and then put on a grill after a couple of minutes i had the pleasure to eat one of the best fish I ever had in my life. Also fried squids were delicious. Don’t forget to tip they get incredible offended otherwise . The one I had the pleasure to eat in is called “Al Bahriya”.

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I want to finish my article talking about maybe the most exciting dinner I have ever had in my life. Jemaa el Fna, the biggest square in Marrakech, patrimony of Unesco, in the night gets full of eateries stands all offering great food and few tables to seat. you seat  all together, the less touristic ones are full of locals where people don’t try to get you go there. They look the same, but they taste different. I went to a stand were only fish was served, fried at the moment served with many sauces and a lot of bread. Everything was very cheap and locals smiled at us, happy to see people eating the same way they do: bare hands, one next to the other. In facts there are no cutleries or tissues. So get in there, don’t be shy. Tip, but not too much. Pay attention to the change and don’t be too cocky because there is no place for people like that in the medina.  

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Here are listed the suggested restaurants with prices per person:

– Le Jardine (20)

– Cafe de Epices (15)

– A dejurner in Marrakech (15-20)

– Al Bahriya (12)

– Stands in the square (7)

Marrakesh-Street-Food-00-4

Brando Gandolfi 

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