Morocco // Marrakesh //

Jemaa el Fna food stalls

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Even if you don’t eat at them, at some stage you should at least wander down the makeshift lane of food stalls on the Jemaa el Fna, which look great in the evening, lit by lanterns. As well as couscous and pastilla, there are spicy merguez sausages, harira soup, salads, fried fish, or, for the more adventurous, stewed snails (over towards the eastern side of the square), and sheep’s heads complete with eyes. To partake, just take a seat on one of the benches, ask the price of a plate of food and order all you like. It’s probably worth avoiding places that try to hustle you, and it’s always wise to check the price of a dish before you order, or you’re likely to be overcharged. Stalls patronized by Moroccans are invariably better than those whose only customers are tourists. If you want a soft drink or mineral water with your meal, the stallholders will send a boy to get it for you. On the southern edge of the food stalls, a row of vendors sell a hot, spicy galangal drink (khoudenjal), said to be an aphrodisiac, and usually taken with a portion of nutty cake. Orange and grapefruit juice stalls line both sides of the food stall area at all hours of the day, but check the price first, and insist on having the juice pressed in front of you – if they pull out a bottle of ready-pressed juice, it’ll most likely be watered down, and quite possibly mixed with squash.

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