This story is about the time when I was fake engaged and I took a Marrakech food tour and literally ate ALL the food in town.
And yes, I do know what the word literally means and how it should be used so you can imagine just how much food I ate. It is also important to know for the sake of the story that follows that a) I am usually not a prankster and b) I am always game to be a food-related guineapig.
My South African uncle firmly believes that I must have a special someone in Morocco because I have been going there at least once a year ever since my first visit. I don’t try to argue with him anymore because he just gets a kick out of riling me up. So when I found myself in Marrakech, once again, on April 1st I thought it would be a good April Fool’s joke to tell the Facebook world that – Yes, indeed there was a special someone and he had just put a ring on my finger and hurrah, I was moving to Marrakech! While a lot of people started to question the validity of this statement quickly, many did not and the congratulations started to pour in. My New York friend whose wedding I will be attending in June even asked me to bring him along and only my friend Kervin wanted to see a proof picture of me and Hassan, the alleged fiancé.
No problem because that same evening my friend Amanda from Marrakech Food Tours had asked me to be guineapig for their new gourmet food tours and I knew her husband Youssef would come along too. While the question of “May I borrow your husband for a fake engagement picture?” sounds odd, she was great enough to let me borrow him and even took the picture.
The real couple – Amanda and Youssef!
Her company, Marrakech Food Tours, offers street food tours in Marrakech and they took me around town when I came to the city for the first time on my own. I had a blast with Youssef, and Amanda has since become my online friend and go-to person to ask all stupid questions about women in Morocco, food, religion and how to behave at the hammam.
This time around, they invited me to try out their latest endeavor: gourmet food tours.
Ask any Moroccan and they will tell you that you find the best traditional Moroccan food at home. That is obviously an argument that will crush many travelers because chances that you will get invited to someone’s home don’t always present themselves easily. So when I heard this argument after complaining about the Moroccan food I had, I was crushed and made peace with the idea to eat mediocre meatball tagines forever. Only upon my second visit did I discover that the few times I ate at my riad the food was absolutely incredible. And it happened over and over again and in many different riads.
Riads in Morocco are unlike regular hotels and neither is the food they offer. You will usually have to order in advance and you don’t get a menu to choose from, you will get what is available on the market and what the chef chooses to make. Checking in with Amanda confirmed – if you can’t eat at someone’s home eating at a riad is your very best alternative.
To showcase some of the best riads the city has to offer she put together a Marrakech food tour that will take you via tuk-tuk to different riads, having a dish at each stop.
Now you may or may not know this about me, but I dig tuk-tuks. They don’t seem very safe, are often overpriced, and are never airconditioned but I love them. The ones in Marrakech are usually operated by men with walking disabilities who can’t find other work and unlike taxis, they can take you deep into the tiny roads of the medina in Marrakech. Perfect reasons to hop on!
Our first stop is Riad Kaiss part of the Sansoucci Collection. While the name doesn’t mean anything to me at first, I learn that they also have their very own Moroccan cooking school which has seen quite a few local and international talents over the years. So we have come to a good place to get started with some amazing appetizer salads and the perfect setting for my engagement shoot: a table covered in rose petals.
From here we tuk-tuk on to my favorite spot of the evening Riad Zam Zam. This one not only impresses with its very own giant palm tree but the most stunning views of the Atlas Mountains and the local cemetery. While the latter sounds a bit morbid it was really quite peaceful.
Here we move on to the fish – a seafood pastilla, a pastry dish filled with fish, mussels, prawns, and vermicelli noodles. I have had a few seafood pastillas in the past as I prefer them to the original version of pigeon, almonds, and powder sugar but this one really takes the cake. However, the chef has overestimated our stomachs and as we have another stop to eat/go we get a doggy bag for our driver.
Last stop for the night is Riad Quara where I am having a Moroccan culinary first: rfissa. A whole chicken is served on a bed of lentils and shredded msemmen (Moroccan pancake) and is usually only eaten during traditional celebrations. Unfortunately, we are unable to make a significant dent in our chicken and are not too unhappy that there is no dessert stop yet.
I leave my friends with a food baby and my engagement picture which I post with the words “My Bubu and me”, presuming that even the last person will now know it was an April Fool’s joke by using a phrase I would never use. I am not a Bubu kind of girl. Apparently, that isn’t enough and I starting to wonder if I should have asked for engagement gifts in addition to this amazing feast. Camels and carpets anyone?
Thank you to Amanda for feeding me all of Marrakech and to Youssef, for being such a good sport about being my fiancé for a night! You can inquire about their gourmet Marrakech food tours here. And in case you are concerned about eating more food, they will add a dessert stop before gourmet tours start running in September.