travel diaries: a moroccan meal

I had no idea that filipinos do not require a visa to enter morocco, so thanks to G and L, I was able to find out.

As usual, it was the Pinoys who started it all. Conversations during parties grew our group of four into an international group of eight. Thus we formed an ISS contingent represented by Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan/Saudi Arabia, Colombia and Canada. Seven ladies and one gentleman. Or as C says it, "me and my seven wives." Two of us were Muslims who can interpret the calls for prayers and inform us about etiquette in a Muslim country. Two can speak basic Arabic and basic French to help us with transactions. With that kind of mix how can the trip not be exciting?!

There were two batches since we booked different flights but agreed to meet up at the El-Fna Square. We took a cutting trip from Amsterdam to Madrid then Madrid to Marrakesh. Our seven hour lay-over in Madrid merits a story by itself, but suffice to say, I never thought I would do an all-nighter club hopping with crazy and lovable Colombians. Definitely an interesting night!

When we arrived, I was astounded by the beautiful Marrakesh airport! The design seemed to be inspired by a honey comb. The glass had designs that reflected beautiful shadows on the floor. I was already impressed by this city!


A basic information we got was to try and haggle everything in Morocco, including the taxi. Drivers approached us offering to take us to our hostels for a fee. It was not something we could easily decide on. We eventually chose to take the taxi for an extra 50 dirhams assuming that we will be dropped off right in front of our hostel. Apparently not. The streets of Marrakesh were too tiny to accommodate big vehicles. From where we were dropped, we had to get lost, er, walk around for 30 minutes before we found our hostel. We could have asked around but we were a little wary because we heard that people tend to ask for money for every little help they get. This was not entirely true. Some were more than happy to help out though there are some who you can sense is out for a few coins.

It was 2PM and we have yet to have our breakfast or snack or lunch so we decided to eat. We stopped at the first restaurant we saw and checked the menu. I was happy to know that the complete set of marrocain salad, tagine, moroccan mint tea and yogurt cost 45 dirhams (less than 4.5o euros), while the couscous set was just 50 dirhams. Being more familiar with couscous, I ordered the tagine set for my first Moroccan meal.

Most meals are served with bread. Ours was warm and fresh out of the oven. Perfect for our rumbling stomachs.


The marrocain salad was served with the bread. I was expecting greens but we found out it was just diced tomatoes with chopped parsley, onions and salt. It was a perfect combination with our warm bread.


Our tagine arrived shortly. I ordered tagine viand or beef (it is called so because the meal is cooked in a tagine, made of clay and composed of two parts -- the base and the conical cover), which at first look made me wonder where the meat was. After digging through the potatoes and carrots, I found the meat at the bottom. The food floating in oil was a little scary but it just looked so good. And it tasted great too!


We were most excited with the moroccan mint tea having heard good reviews from friends who have been there. It did not disappoint. The tea was more on the sweet side but the mintiness was undeniable. It helped take away the aftertaste of the tagine too.

Their yogurt was a pleasant surprise as well. It had the taste of natural yogurt mixed with honey and a bit of lemon. Even after being filled up with the appetizer and meal, I could have gone for a second yogurt.


It was quite a satisfying meal which sated the hunger we have been feeling since morning.


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