I always think that exploring the foods in different countries is imperative to experiencing the culture. Every place has a different sense of “good food”…a different way of mixing local ingredients to create what they consider a gastronomical masterpiece.
We found that with Morocco’s abundance of spices, fresh fruit and vegetables that there were plenty of wonderful foods to experience during the 6 weeks we spent there.
Narrowing it down, here are the top 10 items that pleased our taste buds the most in Morocco:
1) Fresh dates, dried apricots and almonds. These make for the perfect snack and there is nothing like biting into the caramelly sweetness of a soft date. You never had to search far to find a small roadside stand displaying mounds and mounds of different variations of these fruits and nuts. Choose the amount you want and they’ll wrap it up in a newspaper cone for you to munch on.
2) Chicken couscous with onions and raisins. The exotic, delectable taste of Moroccan foods seems to come from their ingenious way of being able to combine sweet and savoury flavours. In this dish the onions are caramelized to perfection and somehow partner perfectly with the sweetness of the raisins.
3) Beef Tajine with Prune and Apricot. Another example of the point I made above-the sweet and savoury flavours in this dish made it quickly become my favourite tajine variety. The prunes and apricots are boiled for about 20 minutes first so that they are melt in your mouth soft. The tajine cooks for hours so that the flavours infuse and the beef is so tender it falls apart when you eat Moroccan style by using bread as your utensil.
4) Mint Tea. If you’ve read our other Moroccan posts, you’ve heard that Moroccan’s refer to mint tea as “Moroccan Scotch”, but we felt it had more in common with a Mexican Mojito. Moroccans love a TON of sugar in their tea and they use fresh mint so the taste is essentially like a warm mojito. Bottoms up!
5) Orange and Cinnamon Salad. The special ingredient in this combination is orange flower water. It is mixed with sugar to make a light syrup that is spooned over orange slices sprinkled with fresh cinnamon. So simple, but so so scrumptious!
6) Msemen- “Moroccan Crepes”. It took a lot of willpower not to eat these for breakfast everyday! The crepes are cooked up on flat grills, usually in front of juice stands or cafes. They taste like naan bread and you can eat them plain, with apricot jam or laughing cow cheese. For me they were perfect just plain when they came fresh off the grill smokin’ hot.
7) Avocado Juice. We LOVED all of the freshly blended juices that the juice shops had to offer. There were probably days when Skott had 3-4 different varieties in one sitting. But the one that was most interesting to me was avocado juice. Avocados are blended with milk and a generous heap of sugar to create a creamy delight that only gets better if you throw some bananas and peaches in it to scoop out. I will definitely be making this at home!
8 ) Amlou. Amlou is like a Moroccan peanut butter…and anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE the PB! Amlou is made by grinding almonds in a circular grind until they become a paste, then adding Moroccan’s infamous argan oil and honey. It’s more liquidy than PB but dip some bread into it and you have a delightful breakky!
9) Moroccan Sticky Pudding This dish is a bit of a mystery because although I know essentially what’s in it (which is always good when you are eating foreign food), I can’t for the life of me find out what it’s called. This pudding is made up of every sweet spice imaginable-nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg etc squished together with nuts and ????, that’s where I’m a bit foggy. To me it tasted like ginger cookie dough and it was served with a spiced tea that became my favourite of the Moroccan teas.
10) Popcorn! Popcorn is one of my favourite snacks…it’s crunchy and satisfying and not so very bad for you either, especially when it doesn’t come from North American movie theaters. Every night in the main Place of the medinas there are people outside with a small cart cooking up popcorn in an old kettle popcorn maker. A bit of oil, a dash of salt and you have yourself a bag of hot popcorn to munch on why you linger through the medina.
Honorable mention goes to the Moroccan submarine sandwich…a little of everything goes in there including french fries!