When I think about Morocco, I think about Jimi Hendrix visiting in 1969, lounging in a typical Moroccan café pondering over his lyrics, writing ‘Castles Made of Sand’, gazing over the souks and desert backdrops. But what often goes unsaid is the rich, exciting cuisine that Morocco is world famous for.
Morocco – a beautiful country with extraordinary people and magnificent food is a rewarding experience for anyone to encounter, with a combination of great weather and diversity you can get a lot out of visiting this exotic place. I discovered my love for Moroccan food on my first visit, the balance of sweet spices, pastries and clay oven cooking encapsulated my senses and imagination. As a young traveller, the Moroccan cuisine excited me to learn more and to take my experiences back to England and to take you on a journey of the food of this wonderful country.
I feel it suitable to start my ramblings on the cuisine by first mentioning the tagine; the pinnacle of Moroccan cooking and most recognised dish of the country. The art of the tagine is in the way it is cooked: named after the earthenware pot it is cooked in, it slowly stews to create a variety of exquisite flavours. My first experience of the tagine was down a backstreet somewhere in Marrakesh, the heart of Moroccan cuisine, and it was the first of many. The slow –cooked dish is famous for its spice and tender meats and has made its way into kitchens all over the world. The tagine itself is an odd-looking device made from clay, keeping all the spices inside. You can order tagines at almost all Moroccan restaurants, but finding a good one is however, relatively difficult. Head towards the Djemaa El-Fna, the cultural hub of Marrakesh, with snake-charmers and herb merchants – it truly captures everything wonderful about Morocco. In the square you can find authentic Moroccan restaurants serving the best tagines in Marrakesh and other interesting vendors selling divine street-food.
As well as the tagine there are many other delicious foods from Morocco that are definitely worth a mention in this whirlwind tour of Moroccan cuisine. The tangia; the tagines single, bachelor friend, is a hugely popular dish that is cooked similarly to the tagine, but in a longer and narrower cooking dish. The tangia is famous for its simple cooking method, which makes it popular for the bachelor men of Morocco. The tender meat infused with the Moroccan spices is an award winning combination and should be tasted at all costs.
Moroccan desserts should never be dismissed either. Sipping an espresso at a bumbling cafe whilst munching on a kfeta can’t be missed. The Moroccan pastries and cakes are heavenly; finger-food at its finest. They take full advantage of dates, yoghurts and almond to create bite-size treats, and they are perfect on-the-run food.
A fine example of the Moroccan pastry is the ktefa, a traditional Moroccan pastry, made from warqa pastry, layered with sweet fried almonds, crème anglaise and scented with orange. The Moroccan pastries symbolise how the country likes to eat – in cafe’s chatting informally whilst indulging their delights into the fine food. Next time you think of Morocco, don’t just think about camels, souks and beaches. Think about the rich cuisine infused by French cooking, which has lead to a creation of interesting, gorgeous and complex foods. Any foodie or traveller visiting Morocco should throw themselves in at the deep end, try all sorts of street foods and be taken on a wonderful culinary journey.