“ I hope you are hungry?” Youssef asks me. We meet on the main square, Djema el Fna, where, together with 8 other food enthusiasts, I’ll be taken on an evening food tour in Marrakech.
The Djema isn’t the best place to find good quality food, so we start off at the entrance of the medina, where a family business has set up a few stalls, booming with local customers. On the menu: mechoui (slowly roasted lamb in an underground clay oven) and sheep head. Yes, you read that correctly, sheep head! I’m not brave enough to try it and instead concentrate on a less adventurous option: tanjia. It consists of seasoned lamb, preserved lemon and various spices, served in a crock-pot and cooked in the ashes of a hammam. Very tender, but I personally prefer the mechoui, simply served with some salt and cumin.
We venture further into the medina and after munching on a few tasty olives, Youssef introduces us to another local dish: “Hout Quari” or “sardine ball sandwiches”: grinded sardine flesh, raw onions, olives, tomato sauce, harissa and a mix of spices served in a sandwich. It might not sound very inviting, but as a group we unanimously decide that this will be our future snack for the rest of our stay in Marrakech!
I’m already pretty full by now, but more than happy to make place for the “pièce de résistance” of the evening: vegetarian couscous with caramelized onions and prunes.
In a city where you can find mediocre couscous on every corner of the street, Youssef wanted to make sure he chose the perfect place to include in the food tour. Together with his wife Amanda, he stumbled upon a tiny place where grandma was behind the pots. They knew straight away they were on to a winner! I ate a fair amount of couscous in my life, but this is truly something else! The sweetness of the prunes and caramelized onions mixes perfectly with the salty vegetables!
The great thing about Marrakech Food Tours is, not only do you get to taste dishes you would probably not have found on your own, but the tour also gives you an insight in the cooking traditions of the country. We crawl into the dark corridors underneath a local hammam to see how tanjia is cooked and descend into a century-old bakery where amidst flour, yeast and sugar we find out the traditional way of baking bread.
For those who think that Moroccan cuisine is all about tajine and couscous, think again! There’s so much to try and taste in Marrakech: from snails to cactus fruit, from stuffed spleen to dates, … my stomach truly has been stretched to its limit! We finish the tour with one of my favourite Moroccan drinks: avocado and date juice, with Moroccan pastries.
I can recommend anyone on a visit to Marrakech to try this tour! Marrakech Food Tours has plenty of other tours available and if you want to try some of the recipes at home, I truly recommend Amanda’s blog: Marocmama
Marrakech Food Tours provided me with a complimentary ticket to attend this food tour, as always all opinions are my own!
Have you been on a food tour in Marrakech? Or maybe in another city? I want to hear all about it!