Day #1: Al Fassia
Morocco was colonised by the French in the early 20th century, and a legacy of this colonial rule is the French language, which is still spoken by all schooled Moroccans. But my happiest French influence lingers on in the wide boulevards of Guéliz in the flavors and festivities of Al Fassia. The first night’s meal, most decadent indeed and savored for over two and a half hours, felt vested with that French homage to life, love, and floating on an air of superiority.
First up…A gorgeous dinner at Al Fassia. Three sisters started the restaurant and now the food is served exclusively by women. And the punchy Moroccan food softened by the curves and the textures and the layers of scents. I LOVED this food.
I started with a lovely local wine that opened up like a Chrysanthymum Flower…sweet at first and then extremely velvety and rich. Something to be savored with a bold meat, however, and very low on the fruit flavor. As alcohol isn’t served in the old city, the medina, this by far was the best drink I had all weekend. (Not to worry, I did bring a bottle of local wine back with me).
Day #2: Amalou and an Egg Sandwich
One of my favorite bites was finding a honey and amalou shop in the center of the souks. Amalou is made from an almond like nut call argan. It grows in the mountain regions, that is ground by hand and then made into oil for eating and cosmetic products. I bought a small bottle (for around $5) or the oil and then also a bottle of amalou, ground into a paste and mixed with honey. DELISH-US!
The next day, we visited a place where all the products were made, shelled by hand, and sometimes, pounded out by hand as well.
The tree was considered endangered when UNESCO stepped in and helped locals protect it. Many french women claim that the oil helps prevent aging lines (due to high vitamin E content) and they buy oodles of it when visiting for the weekend. Berber (a Moroccan tribe) women pound out the seeds. JUST THINK. It takes more than 30 POUNDS of fruit to make just ONE LITER of oil.
Day #2 involved a guided historical walk, and lots of shopping around in the Souks. By the time we were spent (scored some gorgeous plates, a set of handmade wooden skewers, and wine and local beer) and excited to eat in the square: Jemma el-Fna. Locals flock here on the weekend, and the crowd densely packs itself into vendors and performers and spectators. The smoke, the smell, the notion of feeling of camping in a way.
AND TONS of food most locales chow down on.
I was totally psyched up for some snail action, marinated in a steaming heap of cumin and tumeric flavored broth….and excitement quickly led to a bit of disappointment. Didn’t care for them at all.
I devoured the best egg sandwich in the world…for about 50cents, the men aptly shelled boiled eggs, then smeared them into a round bread bun, smashed in some laughing cow cheese (no kidding! this was the only cheese I actually saw while there) piled in a mess of spicy tomato onion spread, smashed roasted potatoe, and drenched the top with vinegar. My mouth gussied up in a state of frenzy. You know how some food makes you pause and go “oh yeah” (Al Fassia) and others…grab ahold and make you sprint. This grub was the latter. I didn’t want to look up as the camera flicked capturing my fury. Dang. Good. …and of course, a favorite of the locals.
But…WAIT! The market-ers of stall #21 (yep, they greet you, touch you, and guide you to their benches) won me over with their charm. Look at this feast. Grilled Shrimp, Lamb Tangine with couscous, traditional smears and salad.
and of course, mint tea. All for about $12.
Stay Tuned for a FOOD JOURNAL about our great cooking class on Day #3! Learn how to make Lemon Chicken Tangine (hint: soak green olives in boiling water for ten minutes!)