Sunday 20 November 2011

Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakech

Watch any travel show or read any magazine article about Marrakech and there is one place that is included each time: Jemaa el-Fnaa. The proverbial heart of the city, it is located across from the main mosque and is the centrepoint of activity. Fronting a large souk, the square is filled with musicians, snake charmers and other street performers by day, and by night, comes alive with the smells of roasted meats as the food stalls set up.

The view of the organised chaos from a rooftop cafe overlooking the square

It was the number one reason I wanted to go to Morocco and I had finally made it. The food stalls cover range of food from kebabs and sausages (packed with tourists) to snails and sheep heads (not so many tourists). I was travelling with a group so we ended up as the more unadventurous food stands but I still loved it.

First of all, you need to decide where to eat and the staff owners are experts at trying to persuade you to eat at their stall and not another. In perfect cockney accents, they would imitate Jamie Oliver, one said his food was “better than Heston Blumenthal” and others would try to charm the ladies with stories of how many donkeys you were worth.

The staff absolutely LOVE being in photos

Once a venue is selected, you then need to decide what you’d like them to grill or fry up for you, accompanied with fresh salads and bread. We ordered a bit of everything and feasted like kings.

A tiny selection of the food on offer

After dinner, we wondered the square, I tried some snails and we also went up to a rooftop café to see the view of the square from a different perspective. The smoke and steam billowing from the grills and fryers produces a fragrant haze that gets illuminated by the night lights: a truly chaotic and wonderful experience.

Snail time - not bad but not great

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