Posted by: baworldtraveler | June 11, 2011

Food and Travel: Memorable Meal in Casablanca, Morocco!

What makes a meal memorable? There are many ingredients that can go into such a recipe. The perfect combination of ingredients is as endless as the sky. Sometimes it is more about the total dining experience than the food itself, other times the food is so superb that nothing else matters.

One of my most memorable meals was in Casablanca, Morocco. It consisted of the following combination of ingredients.

  • 1st visit to the exotic country of Morocco
  • traveling with a few good friends
  • perfect weather – sunny, warm, no humidity, mild breeze
  • meeting a local who offered to show us some of the favorite local spots – beginning with a place on the water, with tables outside, to get the most amazing mint tea imaginable, followed later by diner and topped off by dancing at a nightclub.
  • dining experience with a unique and juxtaposed ambience (more about this below)
  • local music
  • dining area with an explosion of cushions and billowing fabrics which made up the ceiling and walls, vibrant in color, made even more magical being lit completely by candles. (more about this below)
  • walking past meat (soon to be on your plate) hanging in the open air in order to get to that magical, colorful room with cushions.

More about our dinner. We did not want to go to restaurants that catered to tourists. We wanted something authentic. Our new local friend and his friend met us and took us deep into the city. I have no idea to this day where we actually were. He had me approve of his selection first, before bringing my friends from the car.

To get to the dining room, you walked off the street, past some lamb hanging from hooks, in the open air,  behind which men were preparing to cook for the dinner service. This did not inspire mouth watering anticipation of a good meal. At this point I didn’t think my friends would be happy with a dining experience that begins by walking past the dangling animal carcasses that might be your meal. Then we walked into the dining room which was simply magical. I thought it was such creative decorating, to cover the walls and ceiling with soft billowing fabrics, to make the room look like a tent. This decided it – we would eat here.

My friends skepticism, from nearly brushing against that unsanitary looking meat, melted away as they entered that magical, Moroccan room. Once we were comfortably seated on the cushions and had a chance to inspect the decor more closely, we realized the fabric didn’t cover the walls and ceilings, but were the walls and ceiling. It actually was a tent!   You had your table for the night;  no need to rush. As the night wore on the locals filled the place, adding even more to the great ambience.

Now, about the menu.  The menu was somewhat limited, you had a choice of three entrees I believe it was lamb brain, lamb stomach or lamb leg. I had learned to eat and love lamb when traveling in Turkey. My friends were not, at that point, lamb eaters. As you might expect, we all got lamb legs.

Our meals came. It looked delicous, lamb leg, an incredible salad and couscous. We threw caution to the wind and ate everything, including the salad! I can’t remember the desert. I know there was great tea served in those beautiful Moroccan glasses. The entire trip, we did not stop talking about that experience and how magnificent the lamb and salad were. Despite ignoring our reluctance to eat meat that had been hanging close enough to touch as you walked by, despite knowing it was not smart to eat the salad and eating it anyway, we did not get sick. In fact, we ate anything we wanted throughout our journey through Morocco with no negative consequences, only great memories!

(Travel Tip: When you travel to certain countries, to minimize the chance of getting sick with digestive problems, you are advised to avoid salads and fruits you can’t peel.)

What are some of your most memorable meals and dining experiences, whether local or when traveling?

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