Savouring exotic Morocco

I am posting this week’s column while on vacation in Morocco, so I thought I’d take you along with me for a taste of the place.

Even if you’re not a foodie like me, it’s hard not to be drawn in to Morocco’s cacophony of colours and flavours.

The markets are the heart of every community and they are full of vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables and juices, dried fruits and nuts, herbs and spices, or even meat.

On our first day here we left our riad (the Arabic word for a garden residence) to follow the winding alleys in the Medina and discover the market. It’s a maze of brick dotted with intricately carved wooden doors and windows with iron grates.

This is the world of Aladdin and genies, and the mystical history of the region is palpable in the air.

The Medina is made up of souks, areas that sell a particular range of goods such as spices or leather or jewelry. Mixed in are tiny cafes and street vendors that sell anything you can imagine.

Every 10 minutes or so, the minuscule alleys bustling with people and Vespas and donkey carts spill out into a square where one might find a bit of music being played or a street cart set up, selling fresh-pressed orange juice for for dirhams a glass (about 50 cents Canadian) or pomegranate juice for 10 dirhams ($1.30 Cdn).

As we wandered along, I was enticed by the aromas of bins of dried rose petals and cinnamon bark and fennel seeds, the sight of mountains of fresh mint and pyramids of citrus fruits, and the sounds of musicians playing enchanting local tunes on exotic instruments.

The buzz of the scooters and braying of donkeys completed the urban symphony.

We stopped for lunch at a beautiful cafe hidden down a side alley that opened into a huge courtyard with giant palm trees and a fountain in the centre.

We sat on cushions in the corner of an alcove with windows carved like lace, and ate tabouleh and local creamy goat cheese with mint and couscous flecked with herbs, all on a beautiful brass table.

I drank Orangina, and my hubby had a Coke - wine and beer are rare here, since this is a mostly Moslem country. The fresh vibrant flavours of the dishes seemed to echo the intensity of the environment.

You can’t help, but immerse yourself here.

That night we went to Jemma El Fna square, the main market square in the Medina.

By day, it holds vendors selling more of what one sees in the souks, but by 5 p.m., it transforms into a plethora of compact dinner spots cooking up fresh shellfish or meat, along with spiced tea vendors and pastry stalls.

They don’t believe you if you say you’re full — the idea seems to be one of indulgence, to match the general overwhelming nature of the place.

As we strolled back with full tummies to our riad under the light of the moon and the lacy brass lanterns hanging throughout the souk, the snake charmers’ music carried me along with it, almost as if I was on a magic carpet ride.

It was no wonder I dreamt of monkeys and exotic birds and genies granting wishes.

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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