Nipping out to the shops in Marrakech, our photographer friend and neighbour, Mark Kensett, took a collection of snaps of interesting food stalls. It certainly looks different to the shops in downtown Hull! All these photographs are courtesy of Mark Kensett, and we are so lucky to be able to use them on our blog. Click here for Mark’s official site.
Erik and I had an incredible adventure in Marrakech some years ago, and looking at Mark’s stunning photos bought it all back and makes me want to experience this magical city once more.
The main square in Marrakech, the Jemma el f’na, is a vast meeting place for locals and tourists alike. Row upon row of food stalls and cafe stalls are set up, and used mainly by the locals who meet up to eat and drink and spin their yarns.
On the edge of the Jemma el f’na are entrances to the Souk, the covered market. Alleyways and twisty paths, smelling intriquingly of spices, herbs, potions and fruit, draw you in to their colourful world.
Just looking at this abundance of green and pink olives for sale on the stall make me want to take a big handful and eat the lot.
Freshly-made Mint Tea is offered by all the stall holders, if they think it will help a sale. One of my favourite memories was drinking this refreshing drink on an upstairs terrace of a cafe, on the edge of Jemma el f’na, just before 5.00pm. The Muezzin was calling the faithful to prayer, and the sun was setting, spreading a warm pink wash of colour over the peaks of the Atlas mountains in the distance. It was as a scene from a Biblical film, as if time had stood still for 2,000 years. So atmospheric.
Essentials for every family’s kitchen store cupboard in Morocco. Pickled Lemons are used in so many dishes, especially with chicken in a Tagines. Moroccan food is a favourite of mine, combining gentle heat, but with sweetness as well.
The aromatic smell of the spices and herbs permeates every corner of the Souk. Saffron, Cinnamon, Ras al Hanout (my favourite), Ginger, Turmeric, Anise, Paprika, Cumin – the list goes on and on. But in Morocco, spices are used for most dishes, including the light salads dishes, so the Moroccan cook has to replenish their stocks often. Below is a great photo of pyramids of Spices, which catch both the eye and the sense of smell of the passer-by.
The Souk sells everything necessary to life. Food, clothes so colourful, bowls, brass trays, trainers, Manchester United shirts (honest), lanterns, furniture – just about everything. It is a wonderland , a shopper’s paradise – eyes go up, down, left to right – there is so much to look at.
Back to the Jemma el f’na. As the sky darkens, the cafe stall-holders light their braziers and prepare to cook, the whisps of smoke spiralling up, corkscrew fashion, in the dusky light. Old friends and families meet up to eat and chat, tourists wonder if they can brave the street-cooked food. Story tellers, dressed in flowing garments gather a group around them. Snake charmers charm their snakes. A place like no other. A truly magical place.
So: Nipping out to the shops in Marrakech?
How I’d love to go shopping once again there. Wandering around the Souk, drinking Mint Tea in the Cafe de Paris overlooking the Jemma el f’na. Just absorbing the smells and sounds and sights. Maybe one day.
Many thanks to Mark Kensett for his superb photographs – Click here for Mark’s site.