Morocco is such an extraordinary land for the senses: a whirlwind of sounds, colours, scents and, of course, flavours. It might be due to our sanitised western lives but our palates got regularly shocked by the intense authenticity of this country products.
How can we forget our first breakfast? In a quiet café along a silent street of Chefchaouen, surrounded by heavy mist. Nothing extraordinary was served to us but each element was so genuinely good that it was probably the best meal of our trip. Surely I won’t easily forget that butter, yes, just butter, but nothing like I’ve ever tried before.
On the opposite side of the sweet range, there’s the high-sugary treats of dates and Moroccan pastries. The latter often come in all sorts of shape, like edible little artworks, with a sweet nutty filling, and are usually served with the famous and ever present mint tea.
Their traditional tea is an infusion of green tea, served with a branch of fresh mint leaves, giving it a refreshing flavour which is a blessing during those hot dusty afternoons. If served in one of their pelt tea-pots make sure you pour it from a distance, a gesture that helps mixing some air in the tea or, at the very least, to show off your acrobatic skills.
When talking about flavours and Morocco we cannot help thinking of spices. Wisely used pretty much everywhere they give an exotic and interesting twist to the staple of every restaurant menu: chicken or lamb tajine and couscous. Yes even the vegetable couscous tastes fabulous, and not bland as when I try to make it at home.
Those secret spices are also used to enrich the traditional minced meat, shaped into meatballs (kefta) and used in the tajine or barbecued on skewers. We’ve never tried meat as tasty as the kefta at the Rissani market, is that what meat used to be decades ago?
The highest peak of this sensorial experience we’ve met in the evening market of Jemaa el-Fna, where all the snake charmers, traders and Berber monkeys leave place to few rows of food stalls, serving either classics such as grilled meat or fish and seafood, to some more exotic dishes like steamed snails and mutton heads. The steam and smoke mingles and floats under the gazebos, and it is like you could eat air.
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