Of all places I have visited in the world I must say that Morocco was one of my favorites! Located at the very top of North Africa, Morocco is such a melting pot with so much French and Spanish influence. My sister and I traveled throughout the country for 10 days and every city is so different. Everything from the people, food and culture to the weather. I remember one of our long travel days we experienced extreme heat, rain, sleet, and snow all in a matter of a few hours. So much natural beauty this country has to offer and the people are some of the nicest in the world! One thing that did stay consistent throughout the country was the ORANGE JUICE! GUYS, I can’t even begin to describe how delicious the oranges are in this country. Unlike no other. Every single place serves orange juice so of course I ordered it pretty much all day everyday 24/7.
Tourism is booming but the country def has a some ways to go in terms of development so brace yourself if you ever visit. Don’t expect everything to be as glitz and glam with the shiny lamps and cute camels that internet portrays. Even if you are staying at the nicest places, don’t expect the same conveniences that you would in other parts of the world. They live very humbly and it’s best that you do too while you are there. If you decide to visit the country PLEASE do yourself a favor and visit more than just the city of Marrakesh! It’s fun for a few days there but after a bit you will be wanting a little bit more than just the typical Medina scene! Like…um…hello…The Sahara Desert!! There are so many cities to visit and the natural beauty that the country has to offer will blow you away! We started in Casablanca and made our way through Fez, the Saharra desert, Todra Gorge, Ait Ben Haddou, and finally Marrakesh. The highlight of my trip was riding our camels out into the Sahara, watching the sunset, camping out under the stars with local Beber villagers and waking up to an incredibley gorgeous sunrise!
Now onto my favorite topic – FOOD 🙂 Moroccan food is surely a delicious cuisine but if you find yourself there for more than a week then you may be shit out of luck when it comes to variety. Moroccan cooking is strongly influenced by the subtle blending of spices like cayenne, saffron, chilies, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cumin, paprika, and black pepper. If you walk into any spice shop you will notice that they all create their own spice blends. Some containing anywhere from 10 to 30 different spices in one blend! I would say the most defining characteristic of the Moroccan cuisine is the blending of savory with sweet.
Every city does have their unique specialty when it comes to food however most of it tends to be some form of tangine or couscous. As delicious as both of those options are, they start to get a little old after a few days 🙂 Especially as a vegetarian! This sounds kind of lame but at the very end of our trip when we got to Marrakesh we were so excited to find something other than Moroccan food! Which was pretty much Italian and French food…but hey those were some of the best damn French fries at that moment. 🙂 If you do get a chance though, try and attend a home hosted dinner in which lots of other options are presented to you! I do this almost every time I visit a new country and the experience is always well worth it. I’ll never forget the home hosted dinner that we attended in Fez. The incredibly kind women who hosted us in her home made my sister and I our very own vegetarian versions of Pastilla which we would never ever find at a restaurant!
Here are 7 things I recommend you try when in Morocco:
- Couscous: Morocco’s national dish. It’s a fine semolina grain that is plump and fluffy when cooked. They grains are piled on a platter and covered with a large heaping of stew on top.
- Tangine: Stew made with meat, seafood or vegetables that is slowly cooked in two piece cooking vessel called which is ironically also called a Tagine. These are the cone shaped things that you see all over morocco. Sometimes they add things like dates, lemon and egg inside the stew. Vegetarians, you will find veggie couscous and tangine at practically every restaurant.
- Pastilla: Sweet and savory pastry traditionally stuffed with shredded chicken or pigeon mixed with egg and crushed almonds. The shell is flaky (think phyllo doughish) and sometimes topped with cinnamon and sugar icing. Pastilla is the specialty dish in Fez and is considered more of a delicacy in most restaurants so if you spot it, order it! If you are lucky you will find someone to make you the vegetarian version like us – delish!
- Harira: A really delicious soup made with chickpeas and tomato.
- Zaalouk: Spiced eggplant dip – what’s not to love about that?!
- Baghrir: spongelike pancake with little open air pockets on top (think crumpet people!)
- Mint Tea: A must have…duh!
- Fresh Orange Juice: ’nuff said on this topic 🙂 You will find nothing but fresh.
When I have a little more time I will be sure to give a more detailed review of each city I visited in Morocco, however for now i’ll just let you enjoy some of my favorite photos that I captured on my journey through this beautiful country!
Hassan II Mosque
Breathtaking View of the Sea from Hassan II Mosque
Ancient Roman Ruins in Volubilis
At the famous Medina in the city of Fez. Balcony view of the oldest leather tannery in the world! Men literally stand knee deep in these vessels filled with dye in order to soak animal skins and make the most beautiful leather.
You will find all sorts of interesting fruits in the Medinas
Our first HOME cooked meal in Morocco! What a great home hosted dinner we attended. This doesn’t even include our main dish of Pastilla. It’s just the appetizers! Which they call “salads” by the way.
Sahara Desert – Merzouga
Sahara Dessert! Riding my camel into the desert on my way to watch the sunset #YOLO
We camped out in the desert overnight. This was our “room” but we ended up sleeping outside under the stars for most of the night.
Sahara Desert – Watching the sun rise in the morning
Ait Benhadou – We climbed to the top of this beautiful sight!
Cooking Class: I made my own Tagine! (It was GOOD too!)