This past weekend, Brian, Britt, Julia, and I took a “4”-day trip to Morocco. I use the number 4 pretty liberally, as we arrived late Friday night in Casablanca, took a 3-hour train to Marrakech on Saturday morning, and then Brian and I headed back to Casablanca early Monday morning to catch an afternoon flight back to Germany. It was an amazing trip, worthy of several blog posts, including one dedicated solely to food and drink.
Eating and drinking in Morocco is crazy inexpensive and crazy delicious. The local currency is the Dirham, and the exchange rate is about 10.6 Dirham to 1 Euro, or 8 Dirham per USD.
Before ever setting foot on Moroccan soil, I had heard from approximately 7 different people about how amazing the mint tea is and that I had to make sure I had some! Well, I one-upped “some.” We probably had mint tea at least 5 times in a 2-day span, and I could have definitely had more! Most of the mint tea we consumed was free (or included with whatever else we were doing at the time), but the one time we did pay for it, we paid 15 Dirhams, which was by far the most expensive beverage we purchased this weekend.
On our last night in Marrakech, we also found a market booth that sold spiced tea for 3 Dirhams. What kind of spices, you ask? Spicy ones, I found out the hard way. (These include cinnamon, galangal, ginger, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, and star anise.) It was delicious, but my throat was not happy with my choice to consume the entire glass. With the spiced tea, we got some kind of chocolate thingamabob for 7 Dirhams (I can only assume to deaden the pain from the tea). I truly don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t too sweet and had a very rich, grainy consistency.
Freshly squeezed orange juice. I repeat, freshly squeezed orange juice. Almost everyone reading this knows I hail from Florida, where I could pick oranges off any trees I could reach the bottom of. But I moved to Europe where orange juice is not only a made-from-concentrate luxury, it’s an expensive made-from-concentrate luxury! Seriously, for a 0.2 liter cup of OJ, you can pay more than 3 Euros. In the Marrakech market, there were infinite numbers of OJ vendors, selling massive glasses for 4 Dirhams (less than 40 cents)!
Tajine (in Arabic: طاجين-) – according to Wikipedia it’s a historically Berber dish from North Africa named after the type of pot in which it’s cooked, traditionally over coals. We ate vegetable, chicken, and meat tajines (they ended up being very stew-like), and I don’t know that I can pick a favorite! These ran between 25 and 40 Dirhams per meal (and they were so filling, too). Yum!
Couscous is another Moroccan specialty, and it was so nice to have a grain that wasn’t a potato! The couscous dishes typically included chicken that fell off the bone, or just a ton of vegetables (again, mostly carrots, so I had to get used to that.) These ran between 25 and 35 Dirhams, like the Tajines.
While taking a tour of a Berber house on the outskirts of Marrakech, we got to try homemade bread and dips for breakfast while sipping on mint tea and hearing about the history of the area. These dips, you guys, were bottle worthy. I want that honey!
Fruits, nuts, and bite-sized sweets galore! We consumed copious amounts of clementines, some kind of caramelized peanut treat, and tiny sweets that you could buy a box of for 30 Dirham! ((This was not a small box, either.) In the market, you could also purchase a really dense Moroccan bread roll for 1 Dirham to sustain you in case the other food didn’t fill you up. =)
Needless to say we had a great time eating and drinking our way through the Marrakech markets. Now if only I had some mint tea…