Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fantastic Street Food in Fez, Morocco

Sunday, February 12, 2012
mint tea, fez
coffee, fez
Moroccan Mint Tea, Coffee

Start the Day with Moroccan Mint Tea (and Coffee)

Street food in Morocco is a dizzy affair. At once familiar and exotic, the subtle twists that made certain dishes completely different really blew me away. We spent three days in Fez, (and two in Marrakech,) but I suspect we have barely scratched the surface of Moroccan street fare. Each morning, we would begin our day at a completely local joint for mint tea and coffee. Tasting coffee all over the world is one of my favourite travel to-do, even if I can't put a finger on the differences sometimes. The moroccan mint tea, a local favourite, was both soothing and refreshing. It may look a tad intimidating and unpolished, but it really wasn't as overpowering as it looked - Mint tea in Morocco is made using brewed green tea as the base, so mint leaves are only thrown in at the last moment. Note of caution: Steeping the mint leaves for more than two minutes may cause acid reflux!

freshly baked bread and pastries, fez
hole in the wall bakery, fez
cream puff, fez
dates pastry, fez
Hole in the Wall Bakery, Cream Puff, Chewy Dates Pastry

Secret Bakery

This unassuming hole in the wall bakery was one of our greatest discoveries in Fez. They seemed to be always churning out freshly baked pastries throughout the day, and we couldn't resist buying a few to try each time. We went back so often, the owners began recognising us! Everything tasted wonderful (especially fresh from the oven), but we were particularly partial to the chewy dates pastry and heavenly cream puffs drenched in chocolate! I can't praise this gem enough.

moroccan pancakes, fez
moroccan pancakes, fez
Assorted Moroccan Pancakes

Moroccan Pancakes and Breads

Instead of going for Beghir, the classic Moroccan pancakes (second from the left in the first picture), we tried out something I still haven't been able to identify (help, anyone?) - what looks to me like a charred rice pancake which we had with Moroccan butter and honey. I must say, even though the pancake itself was a little dry and tasteless, the combination of fillings was wicked! Msemen (bottom left in the first picture) is a cousin of the Indian prata and is definitely a must try as well. If the riad you're staying at serves that for breakfast, count your blessings and eat your fill. If they don't, try to get freshly pan-fried ones, not those pre-cooked and stacked up as pictured. They go best with Moroccan butter!

home made yoghurt, fez
yoghurt stall, fezraisin juice, fez
pistachio juice, fez
Home-made Yoghurt, Raisin Juice, Pistachio Juice

Moroccan Yoghurt and Exotic Juices

After passing by this stall that sold refrigerated white drinks a couple of times, our curiosity finally got the better of us and we approached the lovely stall owners to ask what those white drinks in glasses were. "Raib - home-made yoghurt", they said. We were sold. It had the familiar taste of sweetened yoghurt but the consistency was less that of commercial smoothness and closer to that of a milkshake (reminiscent of India's lassi). Totally delicious! All sorts of juices were available along the streets too. We had raisin juice and pistachio juice, among others. Isn't it interesting that they use raisins instead of fresh grapes? It looked so thick and the idea of raisins crushed into juice was so unnatural that I felt gutsy just for trying. The taste was certainly unique - much lighter than I'd imagined, surprisingly refreshing and intensely sweet. Pistachio juice was an equally surprising beverage - I never knew juices could be made from nuts and still taste this light and refreshing. Really interesting juices, though I'd have the yoghurt over these any day.

street food stall
fried chicken with fries and noodles, fez
Fried Chicken with Fries and Seasoned Rice Vermicelli

The Unapologetically Addictive Sidekick - Spicy Vermicelli

Snack AMINE sold a mean fried chicken. I was walking by the stall when the aroma of fried chicken and grilled meat stopped me in my tracks. A closer glance at what the locals were eating had me point at the fried chicken, and my friends and I have been fans ever since. It wasn't so much the chicken (though it was undeniably tasty, for sure), nor the fries. Instead, it was the inconspicuous noodles tucked beneath the chicken (you can see a glimpse of it in the picture, just beside the chicken on the left) - an orange-tinged seasoned rice vermicelli (bee hoon). Unassuming but so unapologetically addictive. The spicy, salty and sour flavour combination really kept us wanting more! I sincerely hope that one day, I'll find out exactly what they call this noodle and get a copy of its recipe.

street food stall, fez
street food stall, fez
flat bread with fried potato cakes, fez
flat bread with fried liver and chilli, fez
Assorted Flat Bread and Stalls

Khobz (Flat Bread) with Fried Liver, anyone?

Khobz (flat bread) laced with all sorts of fillings (beef, chicken, etc) can be found almost everywhere in Morocco. We had a few of the beef ones when we were hungry - they were tasty, but hardly a revelation. Then one day we saw this stall completely enveloped by locals. When we closed in to "investigate", I was immediately intrigued. The three stall owners were operating like a single machine - two of them deep frying slices of livers, sunshine eggs, green chilli and potato cakes, while the other assembles the sandwich, slitting the middle of the Khobz to form a pocket, then stuffing it with freshly fried liver and additional fillings. I think I might have drooled a little. Alas, by the time the queue reached me, the fried livers were sold out and I had Ma'Quoda (potato puffs) in my Khobz instead. Tasty, yes, but not what I really needed to try. So I came back the next day and finally laid my hands on the fried liver sandwich! Had some fried green chilli to go with it too. The strong, distinct liver flavour punctuated with sharp, bright notes from the green chilli and a slight, sour tang from the red chilli sauce - just brilliant.

* All stalls located within the medina of Fez.

Next up in the Morocco series - a write-up about the incredible desert tour!

Other Moroccan Posts
3 Days 2 Nights Marrakech-Merzouga Desert Tour (Part 1)
3 Days 2 Nights Marrakech-Merzouga Desert Tour (Part 2)
7-Day Morocco Travel Guide

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