My husband and I tore small pieces of bread to get the last bits of lamb and onions from a clay pot.
“This is our best meal since… ,” David got as far as saying, before I teased him.
“Since breakfast?” I asked.
We were at our favorite lunch place in Marrakech. Sitting among tables full of construction workers, we’d split a clay pot of lamb with onions, carrots and potatoes, shown above. This dish is called tagine, named for the pots it is cooked in.
We paid less than $5 for our tagine and the pot of mint tea. As you can see, they gave us a fork …because we’re foreigners. Still, we copied the people around us and scooped our tagine with bits of bread. It was a lot more fun and a good way of getting every last bit of flavor from the dish.
Hot Off the Grill
Earlier, we’d had good café au lait and mint tea at an outdoor table in front of our hotel. A woman named Fatima stood at an grill, making square pancakes of a thick tasty yellow dough. I was the only woman in the pancake line.
Fatima joked with gestures that I should take up a spatula and help out. She then moved a pancake from her grill to my plate, serving me ahead of the men waiting in line. Maybe it helped that I’d covered my hair with a scarf, as most Moroccan women-Fatima included- do.
She pointed to the bowl of honey on her serving table, not wanting me to miss out. I put two big spoonfuls and took the pancake back to the table where David and our friends Janis and Rich Paul were sitting at a table in the sun.
Breakfast the next day would be even more of a pleasure. We found the cafe across the street from the Koutoubia Minaret, as shown above. The pain au chocolat and plain croissants were buttery, light and fresh. The cafe au lait and mint tea, perfectly done and somehow improved by sipping them in the sun, looking at the minaret.
We spotted what would become our favorite lunch place shortly after while walking by. David and I both noticed these rows of clay tagine pots cooking, as shown in the picture above. This plain little place also had a view of the Koutoubia Minaret.
Many of our dinners in Morocco were a tagine, often lamb with dried fruit and onions, and a couscous dish, often of chicken with green olives and lemon.
We got the lamb tagine and a tagine of chicken with lemon and olives at the restaurant El Bahia in Rabat. It was one of the best meals of the trip, and cost 130 dihrams, or about $14.
La Petit Perle in Essaouira edged out Bahia narrowly as my favorite Moroccan restaurant, because of its smaller and cozier diningroom. We had tagines of fish and chicken, a soup and desserts of sweet and flaky Moroccan pastries and an orange topped with cinnamon. It cost 180 dihram, or $20. Here’s a picture taken at the restaurant: