Whenever we get back from a trip, friends and family tend to ask a lot of questions about the trip, and some questions are repetitive from trip to trip. I feel almost like being half-heartedly interviewed by bots whenever this happens. However, I love to answer any questions about our trips (any trip), even the most boring ones like the following (to put you in context, these questions were about our last trip to Morocco):
- Isn’t expensive, how can you afford it? Look, Jenny, we can’t, but we went anyway.
- Why Morocco? Neither of us has ever been to Morocco, plus, there are camels and a huge desert.!
- Was it fun? Well, where do I start?
- Did you eat a real tajine in Morocco? First of all, I don’t know what the meaning of real tajine is, but we did eat tajine in Morocco and it was okay. We ate a lot of things in Morocco and from all of that munching experience, the following are our street food highlights that we found more fun to eat than tajines from each city we visited.
Fisherman Plate, Cassablanca
Casablanca is a busy port city, and as any other port city, local cuisine tends to focus on what the local fishermen bring from the ocean every day. We love seafood (despite the seafood 101 allergies that I have) so we were curious about the local seafood dish. Our hotel in Casablanca was situated a walk away from the port and according to the wise-net and google, the best restaurants for seafood in Casablanca are located right on the port, serving all kinds of wine with all kinds of fresh seafood you can imagine. The net mentioned the big restaurants at the port like Ostrea and Port de Peche, and it failed to mention that those restaurants open only after 7 PM. What kind of savage has dinner at 7 PM? I die from hunger if I don’t have my dinner at 5 PM!
And so, we were there at around 5 PM and we were famished and those big fancy restaurants were still closed. Guided by our grumbling belly, we found this humble fish bar right at the entrance of the port. The place was bustling with locals and I could understand why; their food is delicious and very affordable. The menu is short and simple; fish soup, seafood platter, and omelets. We both took the seafood platter each. The seafood platter consists of deep-fried calamari, shrimps, and some catch of the day (which apparently was strange-looking Atlantic fish with white meat and tastes damn good when it’s fried and another flat fish), served on a wooden plank with a bowl of spicy dip and wedges of limes.
Cost: less than 10$ for 2 seafood platters, some bread, and a canned drink.
PS: It had more than what is shown in the pic, I had already munched on some of the calamari before remembering to take a pic
Snail Soup (Ghoulal), Rabat
Ghoulal or snail soups are popular across the country It’s a very common street food in Morocco and you can find Ghoulal carts in each city square. I got to taste of my first bowl of Ghoulal in Rabat's Medina. Ghoulal might be not for those of you that are picky and squeamish eaters since the main ingredient is the land snail, cooked entirely with its shells for hours with a plethora of spices.
Eating a snail right out of its shell was surprisingly easy; you just hook the meaty part of the snail with a toothpick and pull it out of its shell and eat it, then slurp the broth directly from the bowl. The idea of eating the whole snail might be too much for some of us, and I know some people told me to avoid the belly part as it might contain a bit of sand, but I ate whatever got pulled out of the shell and it was fine.
The soup itself is a concoction of a complex mix of spices, and it is believed to have good health benefits against fever and gastric problems. This soup does make a good cold weather snack. Nico liked the broth, but not so much for the snail. Me, I liked everything. A lot. However, the spicy broth made me fart throughout the night.
Cost: 50 cents – 1 dollar.
Cactus Fruit, Fes
Cactus fruits or we may say prickly pears are very popular with the locals. You can literally see the cactus plants and the street vendors who sell the cactus fruits EVERY FREAKIN’ WHERE. You just can’t escape from it. The locals love it not only because there is an abundant supply of it, but also there is a lot of healthy benefits from the spiky fruit. The vendors sell it for one or two dirhams per fruit. The vendor will cut it open and peel it for you, and you can eat it on the spot. The fruit tastes fresh, sweet, and juicy. Perfect snacks for the summer.
Cost: 10 cents per fruit
Bits and Pieces of Cows and Sheep, Jemma el Finna Marrakech
The outdoor food court in Jemma el Finna is definitely the worst. You can’t even stop just to have a look or the vendor and his comrades will chase you for money. They don’t even bother to advertise what they are selling; “just stop here, we are all selling the same shit, no need to look any further,” that was the exact line from one of the vendors, said to me as an effort to lure me to his stall. That guy needs to brush up his selling skill.
If you are brave enough to dive into the overwhelming crowd and intense atmosphere at the outer layer of the food court, you will find some ‘overlooked’ food stalls that sell nothing but cow and sheep innards as well as head parts at the core of this food court. These stalls are pretty empty of tourists and most of their clients are middle-aged locals. Take a seat and ignore the menu before you get queasy reading what they are serving.
We had a bowl of I-don’t-know-what-exactly-but-it-was-pretty-yummy. I’m guessing we had bits and pieces of cow tongue, cow innards, cow brains, and all that jazz. It might not look very appealing, but I assure you, it was worth to try! You don’t need to worry about getting sick with the food though, it’s been cooked for hours and hours I don’t think any bacteria would survive it.
Mackerel Tempura, Essaouira
Essaouira is packed with restaurants and cafes, however the best food can be found inside the Medina, in those tiny shops with few chairs where the locals line up for the lunch. One of our faves was the vendor of fried mackerel and sardines. This was by far the best tiny mackerel I have ever had. There’s nothing complicated in the way they prepare the fish, it’s simply dipped into a thin batter with lots of scallion and salt then deep fried. It’s crunchy, salty, juicy and sweet since the fish is very fresh. A bag of this tiny fried fish cost about 20 dirhams and we barely able to finish it all.
Cost: 1 dollar per paper bag, about 25 tiny mackerel tempura