Exploring Moroccan cuisine: eating in, eating out and eating out


By TONY MOCHAMA

Morocco, with 3,000 kilometers of coastline – from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the west – has some of the most abundant fishing waters in the world.

When we landed in Casablanca earlier this month, our first stop was at a bistro where we had a sweet puff pastry snack called briwat, and washed it down with a sweet mint tea called atay served in a small glass.

Briwat is a fish and shrimp wrap, with cheese, lemon and pepper, in a triangular dough called warqa, similar to a samosa.

Atay is a popular drink. Served in kettles with long curved spouts, Moroccans pour tea from a great height.

Casablanca’s fish market reflects the country’s rich variety of seafood, with tuna, turbot, red snapper, conger eel, mackerel, crab, shellfish and lobster available year-round.

Our next stay was in Rabat, and the View Hotel offered standard international dishes.

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The next day, while having lunch at the salon of the town hall of Rabat animated by its president Aziz Derouich, the glamor of Moroccan cuisine lit up at the municipal restaurant at the edge of the water.

Our lunch began with a choice of hot and cold salads, before a progressive feast was prepared on the tagine, the traditional Moroccan ceramic or unglazed clay cooking vessel with a round base and low sides.

Poor man’s soup

There was a choice of lamb or chicken, but only after a starter of harrira, the “poor man’s” soup with pieces of meat that the country’s ruler, Mohammed V, ordered served free in Moroccan soup kitchens.

Then there was couscous, the country’s most famous cuisine, a North African dish of rolled durum wheat semolina granules.

Dessert was kaab el ghzal (gazelle peg, a marzipan pastry) and the classic ras el hanout, a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, anise, bay leaf, mace, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, fennel , sesame seeds, cumin, black pepper, caraway, fenugreek, paprika, coriander and, if you can afford it, saffron.

A day later, we drove 200 kilometers east to Fez, where we explored the ancient section called Medina, and ate the famous street food Ma’Quda, a donut made from dough made from potatoes, mashed with garlic, salt, chilli and cheese. . That was delicious.

In the evening, fleeing the western cuisine of the Fez Marriot Jnan Palace Hotel, we walked across the street to a chic restaurant MB (Maroc Bistort) specializing in local dishes for international guests and serving great French wines.

We had goat mutton with lemon pickle, the latter condiment common in India and Morocco.

The khobz (bread) which is a staple of every Moroccan meal is accompanied by smen, salted and fermented butter from Yemen.

Instead of Spanish olive oil, they use argan oil, from the kernels of the endemic argan tree of Morocco.

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