Replies: 22 - Last Post: Mar 17, 2012 5:14 AM Last Post By: khamlia
Mar 14, 2012 9:04 AM
Moroccan foodHey all,
I'm off to Morocco for four-and-a-half weeks this Monday and I have a loose plan to see what I want to see.
The issue for me is food ... Can anyone suggest a few meals or places to eat that you really like?
Good eating is always a highlight for me and I don't mind walking an extra mile or two (I'm a bit of a walker anyhow) for a memorable chowdown.
I am not vegetarian, but I do love salads.
I doubt I'll go north of Fez and not too much south or Marrakesh.
I'm not rich and I like a good bargain, but am more than willing to spend decent money on good quality food.
Any wine suggestions will be well received, too.
Mar 14, 2012 2:10 PM
Eating in Morocco is always a bit of a calculated risk, and a bad decision can leave you attached to the toilet in your hotel for a few days. Street food may look appealing, but the flies will have walked on it, and guess what the flies would have walked on before they got to your food? Hygiene standards vary, but most salads will have been washed under tap water which is also risky, containing lots of unfamiliar bacteria which can play havoc with your intestinal tract.
Eating in restaurants in the new city areas (Ville Nouvelle) of Marrakesh and Fes is usually safer than the Medinas, there are plenty to choose from in both cities, wine, either red or white is available to buy and take away from shops selling alcohol, but only outside the Medinas, only the big hotels will supply wine with your dinner, and are expensive.
Personally, I prefer only freshly cooked food (not reheats which harbour bacteria), Tagines (stews, either mutton, chicken or vegetable) are usually safe and so are soups, Harira and Shorba, be careful with bread, either petit pain or Hoabs (the flies again, and well -handled en route from the bakery, by unwashed hands). Fish, my favourite, is safe but only if it's freshly
delivered daily by truck from the Atlantic fishing ports.
Whatever you choose, remember to pack a supply of Imodium (Loperamide Hydrochloride) in case a bad decision turns into a gastro-intestinal nightmare!
Mar 14, 2012 2:33 PM
2Miguel, I have not encountered Shorba in nearly 3 years. What is it made from, and what colour is it usually?
Bisara is another good soup (green pea) which I eat every morning for breakfast. 5 dirhams gets me a hot bowl of Bisara, half a bread and a small glass of tea.
By the way, I don't give a damn about unwashed hands on my bread. I drink tap water out of the same glass as my Moroccan friends, and I've never been sick.
Mar 14, 2012 3:59 PM
3Forget the Immodium, that plays havoc with your system too - pick up some charcoal tablets (comprimes de charbon) which collect the toxins & get rid of the unwanted bacteria
I'm with DavidDaoud, I eat where the Moroccans eat, unwashed hands on bread doesn't usually worry me. You will usually find that if there are Moroccans eating there, the food will be good & clean, it's the tourist traps in Marrakech, Fes, Essouria etc that serve 'older' food out of their kitchens to the unsuspecting tourists!
Mar 14, 2012 4:10 PM
4Dan,good food is available in Fez in the new town and is French influenced. French wines are available but as most of the country is muslim you might have a few problems. Good bread,coffee and fruit available and plenty of mint tea. If you buy anything for salad make sure it has been well washed with bottled water. Don,t have ice as this can come from any old water supply.Enjoy the sights in Fez old town. Try the blue gate restaurant. Cheap accomodation in Fez old town.
Mar 14, 2012 4:36 PM
5I'm with David and Kira on the hygiene side, rarely have a problem, always drink local tap water, always eat local street food. If anyone does get a stomach problem the worst thing you can do is to gum up the works with imodium; your body is trying to get rid of what it perceives as poison, so let it do it.
To answer the original question, other than street food and snacks, Moroccans rarely eat out. So the best food is home cooked often taking hours in preparation and cooking. Most restaurants offer fairly quick-cook plates which don't compare in quality.
Edited by: emd_two on Feb 1, 2013 7:54 AM
Mar 14, 2012 5:06 PM
Shorba is soup, generally recognised in various dialects of Arabic, I last sampled it one winter in Chefchaouen, and it tastes exactly like lentil soup and quite delicious, although I must admit, more recently it's harder to find, everybody just expects soup to be the usual chef's own personal recipe of Harira, but why Marrakshis add vinegar to it as an early morning breakfast in the cold winter,confounds me.
The reason why you, personally, can drink tap water with impunity, is that you have acquired an immunity, by living in Morocco and have been "vaccinated" by gradually acclimitising to the generic bacteria. When I travelled in India, I contracted a severe dose of gastric enteritis, every European gets it there, but after, when my immune system had made the necessary recognition of the new bacteria, and responded successfully (thankfully), I was able to drink the tap water in the toilets of long-distance trains, something which would have incapacitated a traveller unfamiliar with the bacteria. This is the reason why I advised Dan to be careful what he eats and drinks.
When in India, I was also advised to "sterilise" my intestinal tract by drinking lots of beer, the alcohol can kill much bacteria, my uncle Archie was a soldier in the Indian Army during the days of the colonial "Raj", and regaled everyone with many stories of officers drinking pink gins and the lower ranks drinking ice-cold beer,all to excess, and never having stomach problems, only having to occasionally suffer the hangover from hell!
Uncle Archie gave good advice, which I observe to this day.................Miguel.
Mar 14, 2012 5:32 PM
Mar 14, 2012 6:04 PM
8Look carefully into Immodium, it doesn't expel the bacteria as it should. Charcoal tablets bind up the toxins & expels them which is far more effective.
Despite my general doctors advice on immodium which is more expensive, since an introduction to charcoal tablets in 2003/4 via my tropical medical doctor I've found them far better to relieve any dodgy stomach problems I have! Worth a shot!
Salads in Morocco are generally ok, when you're in a Moroccan-friendly restaurant!
Mar 14, 2012 7:33 PM
I brought charcoal tablets with me to E. Africa last summer, but never used them. The bottle doesn't mention dosage either. If I were to need them in West Africa (btw I finally got my r/t to Spain and will be overlanding south as far as I can get) how many do you take, and what is the physical effect of taking them? By that, do you vomit, flush out the other way with diarrhea, stopped up like Imodium or is it a more subtle effect? I'd love to know before having to use them.
Mar 15, 2012 1:13 AM
Mar 15, 2012 2:37 AM
Mar 15, 2012 3:21 AM
12I wouldn't use immodium lightly but I also wouldn't travel without it. I'm not sure how I would have got by on an overnight 11 hour bus trip in Egypt with no toilet on board and 1 scheduled stop. The bus only ran twice a week, I didn't have time to postpone the trip.
Mar 15, 2012 3:50 AM
13I had never some stomach problem after eating in Morocco. I drink only bottled water, eat fruit that I can peel self, avoid street food, look every time how clean it is there I want to eat, and that it´s. Keep clean my hands the whole time, not only before eating.
Mar 15, 2012 3:52 AM
14In Morocco, Shorba is called Harira.
BTW: unless you catch Cholera or Disenteria (VERY unlikely in Morocco), Diarrhoea is not a problem...
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