Marrakech and Au Revoir Morocco

Last night after our delicious dinner, we walked the far distance to our hotel. We were just off a major boulevard, Mohammed V, watching the drivers weaving in and out of traffic in the craziest way. We saw near misses with buses and motor scooters that were terrifying. We didn’t see any accidents, but have heard that there are many.¬†We got back to the hotel, finally and collapsed totally into a deep sleep.

In the morning, we had breakfast with some folks in our group who were leaving today. We were then picked up at 9:00 for our Moroccan cooking class in the Medina. Our guide, Karima, a beautiful Arab woman, took us through the Medina to buy the food for our class. We made our way through the catacomb of narrow alleys to her favorite places for chicken, fish and ground meat, as well the vegetables, herbs and fruit.

The first stop was at the chicken kiosk. You have never had fresher chicken, believe me. If you are squeamish, you may want to ignore the next paragraph.

The back of the store was lined with cages of live chickens, some with white feathers, and some with red feathers. Karim said that the red birds take longer to cook because the flesh is tougher, so the butcher picked two nice-sized white chickens. He weighed them while alive and then proceeded to cut their heads off and turn them upside down in a bucket to drain the blood. Their legs were still twitching. He then pulled the skin off of them, cut off their feet and cut the chicken into eight pieces. When we took the bag, it was still warm from the newly killed poultry.

On to the fish market nearby. The fish monger picked out a couple of white fish and cut them into two inch pieces. Now to the meat market, where we got about a kilo of freshly ground beef. The vegetable area was brimming and the owner has the freshest produce, according to Karima. It is delivered daily and most people in the Medina come every day to get the best fruits and vegetables. Some cilantro, parsley, onions, potatoes, Moroccan mint, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet greet and hot red peppers later, we were on our way to Karima’s house.

There were two other couples in our group, one from Melbourne and one from Sydney, Australia. We had the best time with them. The Melbourne couple, were on a ten week honeymoon trip and were Jewish, so they asked about having the fish, rather than chicken and ground meat for the kefta. Normally, only a chicken tagine is made for this class, but having three choices with different seasonings and vegetables turned out to be fabulous. The other couple were a bit older (almost like us), and they were starting in Marrakech on a weeklong biking trip (not like us)!

We started with green mint tea and very thin almond biscotti-like cookies. Then we peeled, chopped, seasoned, combined and created three amazing tagines, plus two salads. The chicken was bathed in spices with preserved lemons, the fish had potatoes and kefta (very small beef meatballs) had different seasonings. One salad was fresh chopped tomato salad and the other a roasted eggplant salad (think warm babaganoush). Both were so delicious. While the tagines were cooking, we went to the rooftop to get a different view of the Medina. The 9th century buildings with solar and satellite dishes! Quite a sight.

Once cooked, in about an hour, we ate with great relish, enjoying the breads and the flavors. By the way, the house was very inconspicuous from the outside, but once inside, it was filled with light and charm. She also has five rooms that are on AirBnB and the house can sleep up to 15. The guests seemed to be mainly young Americans, who wanted a cheaper lodging alternative.

After exchanging email addresses, we will receive all the recipes and hope to keep in touch. We walked through the alleys to the central square, then meandered a bit, where I found a blouse and long lounging dress. I couldn’t leave Morocco without getting something! We taxied to our hotel and once back, Jim realized that he left his jacket at the class, along with the hotel room key. You never saw such a change in our demeanor from enjoying a wonderful meal, to not being sure where his jacket disappeared, not to mention the key. We didn’t have Karima’s email, so we couldn’t contact her directly. After several frantic emails to Viator, the tour company, the morning driver brought Jim’s jacket, along with the room key, to our hotel. Another disaster averted.

The day ended up walking to the new mall about a mile away and having a light meal at the new Chili’s, believe it or not! One quesadilla later, we’re happy. Time for bed, as we have a 7:30 taxi to the airport for our flight back to Madrid. Au revoir Morocco.

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