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Published: June 20th 2008
Orange Juice Carts
No visit to Marrakech is complete without a glass of fresh squeezed juice at one of the carts in Jama l'fna. It's only three dirhams - less than fifty cents US and perfect on a hot day.
After a week of skirting around Marrakech I dove into the city for an afternoon to have lunch with my friend Kamal’s family. They welcomed me in true Moroccan style - actually it was a much more impressive meal that I’m used to, even after all the homes I’ve been welcomed in. Moroccans are experts at hospitality which can be really intense for somebody who’s not used to it. When I first arrived in Morocco in September 2005 I felt smothered by all the attention and hospitality; it was overwhelming. Now that I know what to expect I love it.
I was welcomed into the home with traditional dates and a cup of milk. The same treats are fed to the bride and groom at weddings. I felt honored. Then after some chatting and present exchanges (Kamal had sent a few little things with me for his family) came the lunch. I was ushered from one ornate living room to another where the table had already been spread with numerous dishes of salads - I counted nine different salads. We ate alternately with forks or with bread as the utensil, which is how most Moroccan food is eaten. After the
Medicine in Jama L'fna
This main square in the center of the Marrakech medina has been a meeting place of trading routes for centuries. Medicines for any ailment can be mixed up - as can certain potions for those who are looking for something a doctor can't offer.
salads came the chicken. Djej m’hmar is a special Moroccan way of cooking a whole chicken, and part of the preparation includes soaking for hours in sauce and also frying the whole thing. It’s quite a dish and the sauce is very rich. After the chicken I was so full but I didn’t realize there was another main dish yet to come - l’hem u l’barqoq. Basically its lamb marinated in a touch of honey and cooked with prunes and sprinkled with toasted almonds. I’m not a fan of meat and generally hate sheep of any kind, but this was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten such tender and delicious lamb. After that came desert. Luckily desert in Morocco is usually fruit. We had slices of watermelon and some kind of orange and green melons. Afterwards I laid down on the ponje and took a nap. I am a big fan of the set up of Moroccan living rooms. Plus, I am convinced that Moroccan hospitality cannot be beat.
After that warm up to Marrakech I went back to the city the next day to do some shopping. I had a long list of presents to buy to
I am always impressed with Marrakech's shops, which are always so full you wonder how a customer could ever squeeze in. I picked through jewelry boxes of hands of Fatima until I found the perfect silver Khamisa. It was like being in Gringotts.
send back home. I went first to the Artisanal, which is close to Jama l'fna on Avenue Mohammed V. I got everything I could there before plunging into the souks to see what the shops had to offer. I like shopping at the Artisanal better since I know the profit goes to the artist, the shopping is more relaxed and the quality is generally better. I have leather shoes I bought in the souk two years ago which are coming apart at the seams, and I have similar shoes I bought at the Artisanal which are as good as new.
After the shopping was done I hauled everything to the post office. I am not going to carry all that stuff with me in my backpack through northern Morocco, Spain, Portugal and France. The post office will be much safer and easier on my back.
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