The Market at Dusk
The calm before the storm, just before the crowds begin packing in.
It's dusk and the restaurant-owners are beginning to cart in their mobile kitchens, displays, and seats.
Take Your Pick
A huge variety of sausages, meats-on-sticks, vegetables and salads are available. Meats are stored at ambient temperature, which might be a little off-putting to Westerners, but if it's any consolation, I probably ate some of everything and got away with only minor stomach problems.
Khobz is the flat, Morrocan bread that is the traditional utensil for scooping up tagines and other saucy dishes. It comes standard with nearly every meal.
Tagine is the traditional moroccan dish named after the cone-shaped vessel it's cooked in. Meats and vegetables are slow-cooked with spices. The conical shape of the container allows steam to drip around the edges, sealing the lid to the base and resulting in a moister finished product. Tagines are supreme comfort food and come served with cous-cous to soak up the copious amounts of aromatic broth.
Grilled Merguez and Olives
Merguez is a lamb-based sausage flavored with spicy harissa, a paste made from chilis and other vegetables. Stuffed into lamb casings, the sausages are thin-as-a-finger and come served with olives.
You can find all manner of meat-on-a-stick in outdoor markets in Marrakesh. This is a spiced chicken brochette with a turmeric and chili marinade.
Adventurous-eater Hayley slurped up some snails, saying "five dirham gets you a small bowl and ten gets you a large—trust me when I say a small bowl is more that enough. The snails, or babouche, are served still in their shells, heads and all, and swim in a sort of snail stock that has hints of thyme, cinnamon, and cumin."
Dried Fruits and Candy
Every souk has at least one dried fruit and candy vendor, most a whole row of them. Wares range from apricots and figs to dozens of varieties of dates and nuts.
This one is from Hayley, who says that "the process of preserving lemons is really simple. It just takes a few strategic cuts to let out some of the juice, and then the lemons are packed tightly in a jar with a bit of salt. After a few weeks in the jars, the lemons are soft, tart, and intensely lemony. Preserved lemons, along with pickled red, green, and black olives, are used in everything from traditional tagines to braised lamb shanks to harissa-spiked olive stew."
Various pureed vegetable soups are widely available and eaten with long wooden cup-like spoons and bread.
This stall specializes in slow-cooked tagine-based dishes.
Roast Lamb and Mechouia
Mechouia is a sauce or salad of roasted vegetables (generally tomato, onion, peppers, and eggplant). Here it comes served alongside roasted lamb leg, though you often see it with hard boiled eggs.
Chicken and Olive Tagine
Half a chicken slow-cooked in a tagine with green olives.
Lots of Oranges
Orange trees line the streets of Marrakesh, and fresh-squeezed orange juice can be found all over the city.
Flaky pastry stuffed with a filling of spiced pigeon, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon provides an interesting mix of sweet and savory flavors. It's name comes from the same root as pastilla or pasty.
Like Middle Eastern pastries, Moroccan pastries are extremely sweet and usually encompass some form of flaky crust combined with a nutty filling (pistachios or almonds are common), and a sugary syrup.
Though typically a South Asian or East Indies dish, there's a version of the flaky fried flatbread roti in Morocco as well. The layered dough gets fried on a griddle, then served as-is or stuffed with a vegetable or meat-based filling.
The Nasty Bits: Camel's Hump
The whole camel is eaten, but the hump is particularly prized for its fattiness and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Since the hump is the camel's main store of excess fat (not water!), it's extremely rich. It's eaten grilled or roasted, chopped finely, sprinkled with cumin-scented salt, and scooped up with bread.
A row of stalls serves boiled and roasted lamb. Heads are particularly delicious, with tender, fatty bits of meat that are scraped off and chopped.
Big Pot O' Lamb
"I think I dropped my wedding ring in here. Can you help me find it?"
More Nasty Bits: Sheep's Brain
Hayley says that the sheep's brains were "mild and tasted faintly meaty, and its texture was somewhere between soft roe and scrambled eggs. The brains are usually poached and served with lots of oil and not much spice. It may look weird, but it sure tastes good."