I love good food, and I love Morocco. So one might think that I’d be in seventh heaven. After all, doesn’t Moroccan food sound exotic? You can just imagine the flavors from strange spices and seasonings, right? Well, I’m going to have to burst that bubble.
Basically, Moroccan food sucks.
Sure, a nice tajine or couscous sounds delightful. As does my favorite dish, b’stella. I love quickly breaking the powdered sugar-coated flaky crust with my fingers and watching the steam rise from the delicious mixture of ground meat, cinnamon and egg. It’s hard to avoid burning your tongue and fingertips because you can’t wait for it to cool down before digging in.
When I go to buy our chameau, I look for the displayed dismembered camel leg. A small leg means the meat came from a calf so it’s better for chops. A larger leg indicates it’s an older camel, so it’s best for kafta. I then indicate which one I want, the butcher slices it off the section hanging from a metal hook, and voila, we’re on our way. If it’s kafta, he grinds it for me while I stand there.
Chicken is so fresh that it’s still running around a small pen when you order it. Come back a few minutes later, and the plucked chicken is waiting for you in a bag.
Veggies and fruit are bought from vendors in either a kiosk or a compilation of carts. My favorite vendor is one of the few who doesn’t make me irritated when I hear him calling out Bonjour, mon ami! He can get away with it because he gives me good stuff and doesn’t try to rob me.
At our favorite breakfast place, they squeeze your juice after you order it.
Fresh food does always taste better, but there’s only so much you can do. The local cuisine, at least in the areas we’ve been, has been less than exciting. Okay, frankly, it’s been boring. How boring? The other day I was thinking how lovely a batch of Chicken McNuggets would taste.
Yes, it really is that bad.
Now, to be fair I love spicy food. I’m happiest when I have to wipe sweat off my brow and my nose is running (from the spices). In the States, when I eat Thai food and order it super spicy, they usually stand somewhere they can watch. I think they’re afraid my head will explode. When I eat Mexican, I tell them to cook it for a Mexican not a gringo. Even then I’m usually adding more salsa to it.
French and Italian food is flavorful enough that I still love it even if it doesn’t make me sweat or surprise me the next morning.
In Essaouira, I sat amused as an African woman got so frustrated with the cook that she stepped behind the counter and seasoned her own food. I found that to be a little rude, but now I think she’s just been here for a while. The same flavors day in and day out are just not enough. At first I was thinking I was just being too much of a food snob, but when Tigger started complaining the food was too bland I knew it was serious.
Definitely come to Morocco. The experience is unlike any other place you’re likely to visit. Just be prepared to either go somewhere touristy for a cuisine break or plan a food heaven location for when you leave.
You’ll thank me later.