Sheep’s head, anise flavoured snails and cinnamon are three things that immediately flood my memory when I think about Djemaa el Fna and Marrakech.
Djemaa el Fna is the main square in Marrakech’s medina quarter. Bustling and filled with merchants and performers all day and night, this area inspired the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity UNESCO project, where they identify cultural history such as music and performances, rather than physical buildings and places.
Djemaa el Fna in the daytime
During the day, stalls sell orange juice, dates and nuts. Performers wander around with poor Barbary apes on chains and snake charmers try to lure in tourists.
another shot of Djemaa el Fna in the daytime
There are a number of cafés facing the square.
doughnut seller and cafe
And then, before sunset, the snakes move out and the food carts start moving in.
To me, this is when Djemaa el Fna really comes alive. At night the square is filled with food stalls, hungry people, singers, drummers, dancers, storytellers, women doing tattoos with some dubious henna and people selling traditional medicines.
nuts and dried fruits
Al Jazeera has a half-decent food show called Street Food. Here are parts one and two of the episode on Penang, Malaysia. You may recognize the section on the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre night market, which I talked about and posted photos from over here.
Gurney Drive Hawker Centre
At one end of Persiaran Gurney (Gurney Drive) in Georgetown, there is a very large hawker centre that only operates at night. One nice thing about it is the large amount of choice available there. One not as nice thing is that prices are generally higher than at other hawker stalls. Saying that, however, the food is still pretty cheap by North American standards.
Like other hawker places, when you sit down you must purchase a drink. In this case, with so many tables, each section of tables are claimed by certain drink vendors. So you could be sitting at one table and have to order soy milk, and if you’re sitting at the next table over, which happens to be owned by a juice vendor, then you order juice. In my case, I had a delicious fresh squeezed watermelon juice from the stall in the photo.
Gurney Drive Hawker Centre - juice stand
This next hawker stall sold seafood. The cockles (similar to clams) in the baskets along the bottom of the photo were lightly cooked and really delicious. A friend asked me if those cuttlefish were real; yes they totally were.
Gurney Drive Hawker Centre - seafood