The ancient French culture combines with Arabic modernity in a marvellous splendour of chaotic colour and intriguing scents around the Marrakech marketplace. As soon you step foot into the main square Jemaa el-Fna, the intriguing flavours and subtle spices will drift through the air to your nose. Although overwhelmingly busy and distractingly noisy, the Marrakech marketplace is the best place to find some hidden culinary delights while in Morocco. The Marrakech marketplace serves all your dining desires, from main meals to desserts and a refreshing beverage to wash it all down, all with a side of cultural wonder.
Marrakech marketplace main meals
Dining in the Marrakech marketplace is an experience for more than just your taste buds. As you venture through the stalls, be prepared for every vendor trying to grab your attention and attain your service. While this can be shocking at first, the best way to survive the marketplace is to go with the flow, keep a smile on your face, and let every vendor think that you are seriously thinking about their offer.
Once you finally choose a worthy stall to sit at (you will certainly have made that particular vendor ecstatic) be mindful of any bread or drinks that are placed in front of you. While occasionally these are free of charge, depending on the stall you will often have an extra few dirham. This is just something to keep in mind, and you can always ask when they offer you the bread if you will be charged for it.
So once you are comfortable and content, it is time to choose the food. This is almost as difficult as choosing the right stall, as all the options are appealing and appetising. Some of the options available are as follows:
Tagine: these bubbling dishes are filled to the brim with vegetables soaked in traditional spices and flavours that are like nothing you’ve eaten before.
Aubergine fritters: for vegetarians, the aubergine dipped in paprika batter and deep fried is a real hit.
Brochettes: these mini-chicken kebabs that are cooked over charcoal will really fire up your taste buds.
Couscous: this wheat pasta comes served with meat or vegetables and often with a Berber bowl of buttermilk for a taste of the traditional culture.
Makouda: these deep fried potato balls are dipped in harissa sauce which gives them an extra spicy kick.
For those with adventurous taste buds who are keen to sample anything and everything, keep an eye out for the cheek meat of a sheep’s head, snails cooked in a spicy broth, freshly grilled sardines, or a skewer of lamb’s liver. The Marrakech marketplace is certainly never dull!
Sweets and desserts
Around the Marrakech marketplace are a range of food carts selling delightful sweets and treats. From biscuits to cakes, there are so many colourful and inviting options on these carts. The best way to try them all is to buy a box for 50 dirhams, or 5 euros, in which you choose 15 sweets. It is harder than it looks to choose from the cart and you’ll probably end up doing this each night you are staying in Marrakech to ensure you try them all!
An absolute must on the foodie rounds of the Marrakech marketplace is to try some orange juice. The juice is freshly squeezed from one of the many carts surrounding the outskirts of the food stalls. For 4 dirham, or 40 euro cents, you get a glass of refreshing orange juice squeezed right in front of you. The vibrant flavour is evident from the very first sip. You can also try other types of juice, such as the pamplemouse, or grapefruit, which is an real sweet treat at the end of a long day in the Moroccan sun.
By: Catherine Mary