My Moroccan Food-alogue – Part 3 Merzouga and Rissani

Since we are heading into their home town, I will like to you to introduce you to the most wonderful tour people from Merzouga that made our trip a reality: from Morocco Expert Tours : Hamid and Youssef, our tour guides, and Mohammed, our driver.  These folks customized our tour from day one with unique sights every day and they were patient with all my food-related photo opportunities!

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Youssef, Hamid, and Mohammed — we truly enjoyed our two weeks spent with you!

It was a scenic drive en route to Merzouga. I was excited to see the date palms with their fruit just ripening. I was told that in October there are date festivals when all the dates are at their peak of ripeness.

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Fruit begin to ripen on the data palm trees.

We arrived at our riad for the evening and as usual, we were greeted by our host with mint tea.

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We took the mint tea and some roasted almonds, a regular treat, to the patio to relax until dinner.

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It was such a lovely romantic dinner too.  We were the only guests in the restaurant at that hour and we were told to sit and relax and the meal would be forthcoming…No menu, no thinking, just enjoy the ambience and the pampering. Again, we enjoyed the beautiful array of vegetable salads, carrot, peppers, potato and cucumber, topped off with a rice salad and delicious Moroccan black olives.

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Our tagine of the evening was beef and vegetables, topped with two fried eggs and sprinkled with fresh parsley.  Flavours were warm and mellow.

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Please check out the chicken/chickpea tagine recipe that I have posted earlier this year.  And be prepared for another tagine coming soon, now that I have first hand Moroccan experience.

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We are certainly enjoying the atmosphere and our private dinner for two!

The next morning, we are driven to the souk in Rissani, a half hour drive away.  Mountains of ripened dates were for sale in many stalls.

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The stall below had dates at various stages of ripeness.  We tried a sample of the ripe shrivelled brown ones, so sweet and delicious; these are the ones we are familiar with at home.  However, I have done some research and discovered that some dates will continue to ripen off the tree, while other dates are eaten yellow.

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I had to share this colourful mound of dried rosebuds that can be one of the ingredients in Ras El Hanout spice blend (to see my recipe using rosebuds, click here).

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Colourful dried rosebuds, an ingredient in Ras El Hanout.

The photo below is one of the stalls that we passed with cinnamon sticks and various dried green herbs.

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This kind gentleman tested me by pointing at all his bins of spices and asking me what they were.  I knew every one.  I bought some saffron and Ras El Hanout, made from 44 spices (I had to believe him) and then he let me take his picture with me.

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My new friend, the spiceman!

I loved the displays.  The more common spices were in these open bins.

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The more expensive or special blends, such as Ras El Hanout, are stored in glass jars.

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This looks like a simpler spice blend, to show the individual spices added, before mixing together.  I see turmeric, cumin, paprika, cayenne and ginger in this bin.

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Our souk visit ended with a local delicacy called Berber Pizza at a restaurant with our tour folks and other guests.   More like a calzone, a stuffed pizza pocket and the filling was extremely unique.  Ground beef, chopped egg, chopped parsley, onions, almonds and spices. Interesting……

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A wedge of Berber Pizza

And now, on to our camel ride into the Sahara Desert.

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An hour and a half into our overnight camp but now we can say we did it!

 

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12 comments

  1. Marcia Cantor · · Reply

    Simply AMAZING!!!!!

    1. And that is was, simply AMAZING!!!!

  2. quite an adventure. all looks great.

    1. Thanks, Jay, still more coming!

  3. Cheryl Kardish-Levitan · · Reply

    Your narrative and photos provide a kaladiscope of colours! You mastered the art of preparing a delicious Moroccan meal!

    1. And wait until we have the opportunity to make chicken pastilla!!!

  4. marv cohen · · Reply

    If I could… I’d eat the pictures…YUM !

    1. And replicating these recipes is my challenge!!!

  5. i don’t think i’ve ever seen a comparable food photo travelogue or a more enjoyable one. you may have started a new genre. you certainly have set a new standard.

    1. You are a gentleman and a scholar, sir!! Thank you so much for your flattering words. More travels and recipes coming!! Shelley

  6. What a small world this is!! We’ve never met, but I just Googled: “44 spices” chicken tagine recipe…and only ONE RESULT popped up, yours! =) The weird thing is, a gf & I JUST got back from a tour with Youssef last month!! He was awesome!! I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who knows so many riddles, hehe. 0=) LOVE your blog–brought back so many great memories–and thank you for posting your recipes online; can’t wait to try it out!!

    1. Hi Trish,
      Morocco was a trip of a lifetime! The tour folk at Morocco Expert Tours were all great — I hope to return one day soon, re-live some experiences and seek out some new ones. And I LOVED the food — all the Moroccan recipes that are on my blog are to emulate recipes I actually ate there. Enjoy going through them and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to write again!! Happy food travels. Shelley

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