Marrakesh

There is a such romance about the Djemaa el Fna , with the exotic expectation of the snake charmers and fire-breathers that the reality leaves one a little disappointed. The cobras seem small and doped up – the charmers have to flick at them to get them to stand up. As for the stalls, there is little that we haven’t seen in other towns around Morocco, although the spices are better displayed!

Still, there is a great pleasure in looking at the bustle of it all – the seething crowds, the darting mopeds, and hearing the clamour of the music and storytellers, especially when drinking deliciously cold, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and munching on dates…

Mind you, a much better way to spend time in Marrakech is to sneak away to the Jardin Majorelle and spend some time among the plants and beautiful colours. (You could even bring along the dates!)

 

Grilled Fish and Fabbri

 In Essaouira, there is a fish market and you can choose the fish you want to eat and they grill it for you on the spot. We chose sea bass, and a massive fish it was too. They patted it down with spices and the skin was crispy and the inside perfectly moist. What a great place for a meal, under the ramparts, watching the town go by and the sea gulls trying to steal a snack of prawns…

On the down side, the gelateria on the square proudly displayed Fabbri (pre-manufactured mix and flavouring company) labels, when you would think they would be ashamed. How sad it is to go into an ice cream shop in such a far-flung place and see the generic ice cream.

It really seems that ice cream is a dying art as more and more places go for the easy option… Even on our recent trip across the North of Italy, the shops that made their own ice cream from scratch were tiny minority…

Amalou

The mountains around Agadir are beautiful. It is certainly worth renting a car in Agadir and getting out of town. It is easy to drive in Morocco, and for the most part the roads are deserted once you get out of the cities. The best part of the trip for me was in these areas – from the mountains to the edge of the Sahara – the people are wonderful and the scenery is breathtaking. Also, the food is very good though quite simple.

One thing these parts are known for is honey. The most exotic comes from the pollen of the Argan tree – better known for its nuts that are made into oil for cooking and cosmetic use. The strangest thing is that the process of extracting the oil involves goats climbing the trees, chewing the fruit and leaving the seed on the ground for easy collection.

But I digress, for the goats have nothing to do with the honey, and the honey is excellent. You can buy it on the side of the road, and it is amber in colour and has a caramel taste that is like no other honey I have tried.

An especially tasty option is Amalou (sometimes spelled “Amlou”) – a mixture of honey with almonds and argan oil. I think it would be a great companion to crepes…

Agadir

 I am starting this blog in the middle of a trip to Morocco. Why now? Well it is raining, and that is a good enough reason for somone well used to the stuff and more likely to take refuge in an internet cafe than suffer it.

I don’t know much about blogging, but I will talk about food on this site, and especially now because I just had a great meal in Agadir. It’s a bit of a tourist trap, and not an attractive town, but there are good places to eat. Nothing fancy, but in my opinion the best tastes are most often the simplest. Avocado juice was a revelation and and couscous with seven vegetables. Just enough spice.

Most restaurants here in Morocco are full of cats – this one has an edge by having what I think are wild turkeys wandering around as well… There is much to be happy about when it comes to food here, as long as the turkeys stay off the plates.