Marrakech holidays are cultural hotbeds of dazzling beauty. From its rich Moorish heritage, to the central district filled with gourmet restaurants and glittering casinos – this city delights visitors all year round with a fascinating and diverse local culture. With its majestic mosques, delicious Moroccan cuisine, countless live musicians and markets that sell everything from spices to silk, Marrakech has something that will appeal to every one of your senses.
Nowhere is the magic of Marrakech more tangible that at the famous Jemaa el Fna Market. Here, snake charmers and fakirs set up stalls alongside merchants and tailors. The market square is chaotic with the sound of live bands and storytellers. For the locals this is a way of life; for visitors, it offers an unforgettable glimpse into another world.
Later in the evening the food stalls arrive in convoy, and for many, this is when the real fun starts. The food and drinks at Jemaa el Fna Market take influences from many directions, including Africa, the Mediterranean and the Arabic nations. Visitors can enjoy specialties such as spicy sausages, grilled brochettes, lentil soup and warm chickpea salads… then there are the somewhat more exotic flavours of snails and deep-fried eels. The countless drinks on offer range from mint tea to freshly-squeezed orange juice – as well as the famous Moroccan beers, which include bittersweet pilsners and light, floral lagers.
Morocco’s history of imperial dynasties has led to the exaltation of hospitality to an art form; this is certainly the case where food is considered. The richly nuanced and often experimental cuisine on sale at Jemaa el Fna Market benefits from a geographical location that allows an influx of flavours and spices from both the East and the West. In fact, flavours are so important here that most spice merchants develop their own signature tastes, attempting to out-do one another with secret blends of as many as thirty different spices. These masterful concoctions are referred to as ‘ras el hanout’, meaning simply ‘head of shop’.
Morocco is also rich in fresh produce, including herbs and soft fruits. Visitors to Jemaa el Fna Market can enjoy chicken roasted with fresh apricots, or couscous infused with rose water. Garlic, chili, olives and ginger combine to form rich and unique experiences. Try the sweet, almond-flavoured amlou, or a rich stew prepared in a traditional earthenware tagine.
The Jemaa el Fna Market is the one thing that makes tourists want to travel to Marrakech more than anything. You’ll be swept away by the heady cocktail of healers, traders and performers. But more than anything else, it’s the tastes that will stay with you forever.
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