Marrakech, Part 3: Street Food Tour

{Read Marrakech, Part 1 and Marrakech, Part 2}

One of the things M really wanted to do in Marrakech was go on a street food tour. This one had very high ratings online, and it did not disappoint. Even if you don’t eat at every stop (I certainly didn’t want to), you will not go hungry! We both really enjoy learning about different cultures through their food, and this tour offered just that.

IMG_0455.jpg

The tour meets at the big square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, in the evening, and ours separated into two groups of 6, each with a licensed local guide.

IMG_0433
There are snake charmers in there somewhere… I didn’t get too close

IMG_0436

Our group’s first stop was at a place I may not have even known was a restaurant if I’d walked past it. They serve steamed lamb, which is cooked down in a hole in the ground all day, as well as lamb cooked in tangia pots… and sheep’s head.

IMG_0442
Center of photo: the cover to the hole in the ground where they steam the lambs

You can BYO lamb carcass to be cooked here. Women show up first thing in the morning with their lamb, pay a small fee, the lambs go down in the hole where they are steamed over a fire of olive wood, and then the women return at noon to pick up their steamed lamb in time for lunch.

IMG_0446
Tangia pots

Alternately, people can load up their own tangia pots at home, typically with lamb, garlic, preserved lemon, and saffron, and bring them to be cooked there, again for a small fee.

IMG_0449.jpg
Lamb with preserved lemon and spices

We were served both styles of lamb, the plain steamed lamb as well as the tangia-cooked lamb, plus a sheep’s head. And mint tea, of course. Always.

IMG_0448

I don’t eat lamb, as I draw a pretty firm line at eating baby animals, but I did manage to scoop up a bite of it with some bread and give it a try. I just couldn’t do the sheep’s head, though. Too baaaaad.

IMG_0443
Sheep’s head

Our guide said they typically season the sheep with just some cumin and salt. “We use cumin a lot,” she said; “we call it Moroccan Imodium.”

IMG_0450
Our wonderful guide

Our second stop was an olive stall, where we tried all sorts of olives with different seasonings and learned that green, purple, and black olives are not different types of olives from different types of trees, they are simply olives picked from the same trees but at different stages of ripeness. I didn’t know that.

The third stop was I think my favorite food on the tour. Massimon pancakes are dough stretched out and fried in fat, with different topping options (kind of like ordering a crepe), rolled up and handed to you, hot and fatty and delicious. They cost about 50 cents.

The ones we were served were topped with onions and seasoning, but we found a street stall the next morning making them and chose a chocolate spread for those. Yum.

Also at this stop, we tried a typical Moroccan soup made with chickpeas, which they use to break the fast during Ramadan.

Stop 4 was another place I wouldn’t have known what they were serving if I hadn’t been on this tour. It was grilled sardine sandwiches, with olives and tomato, but it didn’t taste fishy at all. The grilled sardines looked more like falafel or meatballs. I was surprised by how much I liked these sandwiches!

Stop 5 didn’t actually have anything for us to eat. It was at a public hammam, to see where they have the fire to make the steam for the baths. The connection to the food was that people also bring their prepared tangia pots here to be cooked by the steam.

A public bath that doubles as a public oven, pretty efficient!

Stop 6 was spleen (I think a sheep’s? Probably?). I didn’t try it. M did, though.

IMG_0481.jpg

Stop 7 was snails.

IMG_0485.jpg

Again, M was MUCH more enthusiastic about this stop, but he did talk me into trying one small snail.

Rubbery.

 

Our eighth stop was for traditional couscous with vegetables, which ended up being nearly identical to our lunch that day. At this point in the tour, I was full (even without eating half of what M did!), so I didn’t eat very much, though it was very good. If it had been the first stop on the tour I would have eaten a lot more of the couscous.

IMG_0496.jpg
M pouring the mint tea for the table

I enjoyed some refreshing pomegranate and mint tea to cleanse my palate after all the different flavors.

IMG_0500.jpg

Our final stop was for dessert: traditional Moroccan cookies and fresh “juices” (the juices were more what we would call smoothies).

IMG_0506.jpg

I had a mango-orange-pineapple, which was fantastic, but M’s avocado-date-almond was even more amazing.

We were absolutely stuffed after the 3-hour, 9-stop food tour. Our guide brought us back to Jemaa el-Fnaa, where the nighttime entertainment was in full swing.

IMG_0539.jpg

We wandered around for a while, taking in the sights and sounds while we digested our feast.

I would highly recommend the Marrakech food tour to anyone, even if you aren’t as brave as M about trying new and different foods. You need to go with an open mind, though. And an empty stomach!

Read more about our trip to Morocco: {Marrakech, Part 4}

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s