Morocco is a feast for the senses! Food plays an important role in Moroccan life. The many stalls in the medina selling fresh meat and vegetables, sit side by side with other stalls displaying an incredible array of herbs and spices in rainbow colours.
In the main square in Marrakech, Djemaa El Fna, there are vendors selling anything you can imagine. Stalls selling freshly squeezed orange juice compete for space amongst stalls of glossy dried fruits and at dusk the smoke begins to rise from the many open-air restaurants which barbeque fresh ingredients.
At night vendors with mobile trolleys laden with delicious sweets, that would not look out of place in a shop in Sydney, push their way through the crowds and tout their wares.
Beyond the hustle and bustle, there are some wonderful restaurants in Morocco. We enjoyed lunch at the cafe in the Jardin Marjorelle, Marrakech, within the tropical gardens restored by Yves Saint Laurent.
Pepenero cucina Italiana in Marrakech is a delight. Lovely Italian food with a Moroccan twist.
For a memorable dining experience, treat yourselves to dinner in one of the restaurants at La Mamounia. A grand Marrakech hotel in pure Moroccan style, which combines history and luxury. La Mamounia is home away from home to celebrities and movie stars who are busy with the Moroccan film industry. Pre dinner enjoy the musical quartet in the bar and after dining, stroll the acres of garden in the moonlight. Just perfect.
Colourful ceramics, beautiful plates and bowls, tagines and platters all tempt you to buy in the medina. Haggling with the stall holders is all part of the Moroccan shopping experience. The rule is to start at half price and negotiate up from there.
Moroccan mint tea is drunk throughout the day. Even in the smallest stalls selling babouches (slippers), ceramics or linens, trays of steaming mint tea would materialise seemingly within minutes of our arrival. Mint tea is a welcoming aspect of Moroccan life, guaranteed to refresh you in the chaos of shopping in the medinas.
If the deal is a serious one, you’ll probably want to sit down over tea and talk about anything but the price of the goods you are considering.
We were surprised to learn that Morocco is the world’s largest importer of green tea from China!
In Moroccan culture, mint tea is served before and after meals and throughout the day, as It is sweet and refreshing.
– 4 to 5 cups of water
– 1 x large bunch of fresh Spearmint (nb peppermint does not work as well)
– 1 tbsp of green tea (Gun Powder Tea is preferred and you can find it in oriental/chinese stores)
– 4 to 5 tablespoons of sugar
Only boiling water is used.
Place green tea in the teapot.
Add 1/4 cup of boiling water, let it sit for 1/2 minute and then pour it out. This allows the tea leaves to open completely.
Add all the rinsed mint to the teapot, then add 4-5 tbsp of sugar (to taste). Top with boiling hot water and let it sit for another minute.
Pour out 1 full glass of hot mint tea and pour it back into the teapot. Repeat this twice to allow for the sugar to mix without breaking any mint leaves (breaking of mint leaves while mixing with a spoon makes tea a bit bitter).
To serve your mint tea
Hold the teapot high above the glass, so that the tea ‘foams’ as it is poured into the tea glasses. This foam is called the “Tea Turbin” and it is believed that the larger the turbin the better the tea! It does take practise to pour tea from a height!
In Morocco, the key to cooking is “fresh is best”. Fresh herbs such as parsley, coriander and mint, are used in abundance. Moroccan cooking is spicy and zesty but not overpowering. Cumin, turmeric, chilli, saffron, ginger, paprika, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper are the main spices used.
In our blog, we will introduce you to some Moroccan recipes to tantalise your tastebuds.