Morocco has long been a popular destination for tourists and has of course evolved over the last few decades from a country that, to a Westerner, may have seemed so incredibly foreign, to a land that has both embraced 21st century technology and maintained their unique and beautiful culture.
As a country that still has a very prominent monarchy and with Marrakesh being a mainstay of the royal family, the city is scattered with palaces, regal abodes, beautiful parks, green spaces and perfectly manicured trees.
Don’t be fooled by some of the palm trees you’ll see when you go, however. Creatively camouflaging otherwise ugly 21st century technology has been turned into an art form; some of the palms are actually manmade telecommunication towers. Ingenious!
To the unknowing eye, this may seem like a scene from a lush tropical rain forest when in fact it’s right in the city centre at the technology park.
Bitter oranges grow all over the city and if you arrive in the spring, the trees are in full bloom and the air is ripe with the sweet smell of citrus blossoms reminiscent of jasmine. Interestingly enough, these oranges are only good for making marmalade as they are wickedly sour. The thousands of trees around the city produce tons of bitter oranges that are then collected by a Moroccan company and processed into export quality marmalade.
The parks and green spaces in Marrakesh are truly a sight to behold. The landscaping and manicuring is undoubtably world-class and truly beautiful.
Morocco is, in fact, only about 15 kilometres (9 miles) from the European Gibraltar coastline and can be seen on the horizon on a clear day. With just a quick flight or ferry, Morocco is easily accessible to many tourists visiting Europe wanting to see something unique. It is the ideal location for a long-weekend getaway when you’re yearning for something exotic with a friendly atmosphere.
The old city is littered with tiny passages and doorways that lead you into the world renowned Souk; an unbelievable network of alleys and passageways making up one of the largest street markets in the world.
The very early morning at the Souk is quiet but don’t let that fool you. As the day progresses, the passages becoming teaming with locals, vendors and tourists alike.
As one would expect, the Souk is still a place where you can barter to your heart’s content. Not knowing what was in store for me, I was pleasantly surprised during my entire time wandering aimlessly (the best way to do it, by the way) throughout the Souk. We found the merchants and locals to be very friendly, respectful and helpful and if you weren’t interested in what they were selling, that was just fine….”other tourists will buy it” many boasted, as they chuckled under their breath!
The mosques and architecture were impressive in the sense that you had a bit of everything scattered throughout Marrakesh. Ramshackle old places next to the magnificent mosques and palaces leading to super modern buildings in the newer part of town. The entire city seems a bit paradoxical; it’s truly amazing!
That being said, don’t let the outside of those old run-down buildings fool you from their exterior! Once inside, you’ll be amazed by the carvings and intricacy of how Moroccans like their interiors designed.
A close-up of the carved walls.
The food of Marrakesh, and Morocco in general, is very flavourful, mixing spices into rich blends and combining them with meat, poultry, seafood, fish and vegetables. They cook primarily using a tajine (click here to see our lamb tajine blog) and serve the stewed dishes with a selection of salads, flat breads and couscous.
Dinner in Morocco is hearty and bountiful. Here we started off with seven delicious salads, all of which were completely unique. They, of course, were accompanied by a traditional wholemeal flatbread.
The main course was a delicious chicken tajine served with olives, couscous and vegetables. I’ll show you how to cook this dish using the Fornetto Bread Cloche, but you could also use a tajine! As you can see in the image above, The Fornetto Bread Cloche is strikingly similar to an authentic earthenware Moroccan tajine and works just as well as a tajine ever could!
If a tajine is not your cup of tea, visit the night market where you can indulge in all those delicious Moroccan salads as well as beautifully grilled meat, poultry and fish.
As a Halal nation, Moroccans pride themselves in offering the freshest produce and meat available. A treat both for the eyes and the palette.
The spice market at the Souk is any cook’s wonderland. It’s like being a kid in a candy store. The aroma of spices is in the air and the vendors are creative types that will happily mix you up their favourite blend of an extraordinary Ras El Hannout (a Moroccan spice blend similar to a curry or Indian Garam Masala), like the one you’ll need for the recipe below.
Click here to view the recipe in full for our Moroccan Chicken, Preserved Lemon and Green Olive tajine!