Over the mountains we go – eating our way through the High Atlas in Morocco

Ha, I bet you thought I forgot about these posts. Never fear, I’m not stopping. I’m just slow!

We left Marrakech for a long trip through Morocco’s High Atlas mountains. After several hours driving on narrow, windy roads we stopped at a little town that I think was called Toufrine (I could be mistaken) for lunch.

Leaving Marrakech, Mark piled us into a car and we headed into the High Atlas Mountains. After windy roads and a long morning drive, we reached the small mountain town of Toufrine where we met our local guide, Mohamed.

Our gracious host and local guide was Mohamed, who started us off with a refreshing (and super sweet) cup of mint tea.

Mohamed pours mint tea

Mohamed pours mint tea

These almonds and pecans were from nearby trees. Don’t you wish we had this kind of local food in our backyards?

tea and snacks

tea and snacks

The main meal was a lamb tagine, with tender olives, tomatoes and potatoes piled high.

lamb tagine

lamb tagine

my plate

my plate

loaves of fresh khobz (bread)

loaves of fresh khobz (bread)

After stuffing ourselves, Mohamed took us to a nearby mountain town for some sightseeing. We were supposed to go to a town renowned for their waterfall, but the abnormal amount of rain in the area washed out the road and so instead we went to a totally different town called Tighfiste.

On our way there, after talking to someone on an old cell phone, he suddenly asked Mark, our regular guide, to stop the car and he climbed out. And then up. Straight up, in the pouring rain. Wearing only sandals. Trying to find him in the photo is like playing Where’s Waldo. Mohamed is the striped blur somewhere in the middle of the photo. I took this picture while sitting in the car and looking straight up.

Part mountain goat?

Part mountain goat?

He came back with reused water bottles and giant jugs of honey from someone who lives at the top of this cliff. And yes, he carried all of it down that same cliff.
Continue reading

Advertisements

more Marrakech food and sights

My last post on Marrakech. But more Morocco to come!

A man was selling mint from giant sack, right on the street.

mint for sale

mint for sale

Fried fish. Mark, our guide, said that it wasn’t worth eating seafood here and that it would be better on the coast. Also, notice the Activia sign. I had no idea that stuff was so far reaching!

fish and yogurt sign

fish and yogurt sign

Lots and lots and lots of colourful tagines for sale.

tagines

tagines

Mutton, anyone?

butcher

butcher

Garlic and spices for sale on the side of the street.

garlic and spices

garlic and spices

Continue reading

Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech

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

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

another shot of Djemaa el Fna in the daytime

There are a number of cafés facing the square.

doughnut seller and cafe

doughnut seller and cafe

merchants

merchants

snake charmers

snake charmers

And then, before sunset, the snakes move out and the food carts start moving in.

food carts

food carts

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

nuts and dried fruits

Continue reading

Marrakech souk

While we were in Marrakech, we went to a local souk. Souks are markets – sometimes permanent and sometimes weekly, depending on the souk. This souk wasn’t a tourist one where you could buy souvenir trinkets, but a souk that locals went to for various needs. Part of the souk is permanent and sells things like furniture. The other part of the souk was transient and reminded me of a flea market. You could buy anything including shoes, carpets, clothing… I even saw an old VCR player for sale!

Some of these photos are a little crooked because I was taking them with my camera hidden partially under a jacket draped over my arm. Taking photos in Morocco isn’t always easy as people tend to prefer not to have their photo taken, so unless we had specific permission from someone to take their photo I tended to take unobtrusive pictures instead. I could have straightened the photos on my computer, but I feel like the angles are part of my Moroccan experience and decided to leave them all in instead!

outside of the souk, by the medina walls

outside of the souk, by the medina walls

I cannot stop marvelling at the oranges in Morocco. I still dream of their sweet goodness.

orange seller

orange seller

Moroccans love sweets and pastries.

pastry seller

pastry seller

radishes and other unidentifyable vegetables

radishes and other unidentifyable vegetables

cookware shining in the sun

cookware shining in the sun

I think these were chestnuts but I can’t remember for sure.

nut seller

nut seller

permanent part of the souk

permanent part of the souk

I saw so many tagines during the trip and I dearly wanted to buy one but there was no way I would be able to haul one around for the rest of our trip and I was afraid that it wouldn’t survive a trip through the post office. They were so cheap, and they were all so very tempting.

tagines and doors

tagines and doors

The locals must have thought I was nuts for taking some of these photos. These are parts of an olive oil press. Some of the spiral posts were taller than I am!

olive oil press

olive oil press

How did people got all this stuff home? By cart or truck, if necessary.

delivery truck

delivery truck