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Morocco - what's to eat?

c
christina z Mar 26, 2002 02:18 PM

I'm going to Morocco in a week. Are there culinary treats I should seek out? Weird foods? Uncommon beverages? Any warnings?

Thanks.

cz

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  1. w
    WineCounselor RE: christina z Mar 27, 2002 06:49 PM

    Good luck. Where are you going? Where are you staying?
    I spent a week there last spring & had the worst food of my life there. Most unfortunately the ingredients used are very poor & not at all like the food you read about in the guides and magazines. I was very, very disappointed as I had really looked forward to the trip & food.
    After we returned to the States we prepared Moroccan food and it was wonderful. Please respond to this message and I will try & offer some mor positive comments!

    1. t
      TSR RE: christina z Mar 28, 2002 07:09 AM

      We just got back, and had very decent, if not always mind-blowing food. Most of the food fits very tightly into the "typical" Moroccan menu: several rich cooked veggie salads, maybe a soup, followed by a tagine of braised meats with lemon, olives, etc., or a couscous. Maybe brochettes. There was little real variety, but it is good food. The couscous was the standout to me, as it had a great texture that I have never had, not even in trying to cook with the traditional steaming methods.

      Breakfasts had more variety, with interesting chickpea soup and somewhat greasy, but nice, folded pancakes. Oh, and more fresh oranges than you can every imagine!

      For restaurants, there was one general trend: the food in Fez was very good. The food in the south was more simple, but nice. The food in Marrakesh was very disappointing. We loved La Maison Bleue in Fez (their Riad, too, was a great place to stay). La Yacout in Marrakesh was absolutely beautiful and had great service, but the food was not as good as LMB (although I still recommend it for the experience). I was seriously disappointed in the oft-touted El Fassia in Marrakesh - not horrible, but it might have been the worst meal of the trip. I would also strongly recommend eating in the market square in Marrakesh, which I tragically planned to do on the one day in the last several years it was closed for a concert. Lovely looking grilled kefta, salads, soups, snails, and, for the more adventurous, whole sheeps heads for about $4.

      In the markets, you can find great dates and olives, and interesting sesame flavored sweets, especially in Marrakesh. We also bought some olive oil and argon oil in Taroudant (they look cool, at least, packaged in reused Arabic Coca-Cola bottles) and amlou, a great blend of oil, almonds and honey. The spices are also quite nice, especially the blend ras el hanout, which each spice shop makes, and the saffron seems nice. Haggle seriously for everything in the markets - we found that you could often reach a deal at about 1/3 of the opening offer.

      Where are you going? I can add more with more of an idea.

      1. c
        ciaolette RE: christina z Mar 28, 2002 01:49 PM

        Morocco...it's really wonderful, I was there for 2 weeks and want to go again. Most of the food we ate was not very good, but the good things we found were awesome.
        I am so sorry I don't remember the names of the two places in Casablanca that were wonderful..exquisite tagines. Also a wonderful soup with fresh herbs,chickpeas,tomatoes. And fresh flat sesame breads. I know we simply asked people for recommendations and were led to good places. Also in Casablanca we had excellent frito misto style seafood at one of the places at the beach.
        Marrakesh was more iffy, some great couscous in a cafe by the square, but the one "expensive" place we went to was touristy and terrible food. Also my brother and his wife had a day of "stomach trouble" after eating gelato, which I stayed away from. The only dairy product I ate was excellent french style yogurts, which I think help tummy problems.
        Up in the mountains the food was pretty bad,though you could always get good bread, and this is where I depended on what I brought with, protein bars!! and bottle water. The markets had vegetables, nuts, and fruits, but the preparation of foods in the roadside shops is a little scary, meat hanging from hooks outside, etc.
        After 2 weeks I had lost almost 10 lbs, so I laughingly call Morocco my weight loss vacation!!
        But the wonderful Tajines made up for it, I have never had any as good in Moroccan rest.s here in the US. My favorite was a Chicken tajine with onions, fruit and cinnamon.

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