Jun 19 2015

by Heidi Leon Monges

Travel: Experiencing Moroccan cuisine with Marrakech Food Tours

Last year, when we were living in Marrakech, my friend Amanda from the popular food and travel blog MarocMama, invited me to experience first hand what her food tours are, a three hours guided walk where you eat the most representative Marrakchi & Moroccan food, which probably is completely different from all those fade, overcooked tagines you tried in your very fancy Moroccan-ish restaurant.

Amanda and her husband Youssef created these tours as a response to Amanda’s need to find good non-touristy food to share with her American family, friends, and blog followers.  She achieved this thanks to her husband’s assistance explaining to her what Moroccan culture is, she also got trained on how to cook like a Moroccan Mama via her Mother and sisters in law. Of course, her own curiosity to taste every single dish that was put at her table, provided the right parameters to understand and cook Moroccan cuisine like a local. Then she realized she had to share all that great information on restaurants, street sellers and artisans that worth the visit. Soon after, Marrakech Food Tours came to life.

Through those three hours that pass by so speedily, you will probably taste and enjoy local tangia, a Marrakech-only specialty which has an amazing resemblance in flavors and cooking method to Mexican Barbacoa;  a melt in your mouth slow cooked lamb meat that is enjoyed with khobz bread and that addictive mix of cumin-y salt. Another highlight you might discover with them is Sardines keftas (meatballs) sandwiches, a classic street food that is quite popular through all  Morocco. For me, it was love at first bite, that saltiness of  the  fried sardines meatballs (probably from Essaouira) spiked with fresh chopped herbs, red onions, green olives, and crowned with a red spicy sauce (harissa?) is just glorious.

Couscous was also a winner, having enjoyed so many CouscousFridays during our Moroccan year, I can tell the difference between a good and a bad one. Zara’s couscous (the lady who worked with us at home), was an just-ok one, Amal’s Association is probably the best in la Nouvelle Ville (Gueliz), and Mamounia’s couscous is just so refined that somehow loses its humble roots (but it is delicious indeed), but well, a good couscous in touristy trap as Djemma el Fna, is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Not with Amanda and Youssef’s company, they will take you through Marrakech’s medina sinuous and narrow alleys, and just when you´re thinking, thank God I have them with me or I will definitely get lost, that’s when you will probably arrive in couscous heaven. A tiny eatery with only three or four tables, where a very old lady treats locals and few foreigners on her amazing couscous (they also serve other traditional and well known Maghrebi dishes). As any respectable Moroccan person will do, you will be welcomed with steaming hot atay (Mint tea), followed by that festive big plate of semoule, vegetables and meat (if you’re vegetarian, make sure to inform Amanda and Youssef in advance, Marrakech is not that vegetarian friendly as you may think), which you will eat with your hands as locals do (cutlery is also available if you’re feeling less adventurous).

Although the Mouttaki’s will insist they are not food historians or scholars but just a couple who share the same love for Marrakech, food and traveling, the information and insight they have by being a bicultural family (Amanda is American and Youssef is Moroccan), makes them an interesting couple to discover the old walled city with. Amanda’s  American straightness  on what is good soul Moroccan food, is balanced by Youssef’s calmness and inner zen that Moroccans are well known for, plus Youssef was raised in the Medina, so he knows all about it.

If this is your first time visiting this city, then this tour will provide you with all the elements needed to go through your trip, the food, the good and the bad, and local customs to avoid a disappointment. As beautiful, charming and captivating as Marrakech’s medina and Djemma el Fna square are, they can be perceived as invasive to say the least. A food tour with locals will bring you closer to the square, the city, and marrakchias lifestyle.

Marrakech Food Tours

A 3-hour walk food tour through Marrakech’s secret corners in the Medina created by American food and travel blogger Amanda and her Moroccan husband Youssef Mouttaki, aka MarocMama + MarocBaba.

Online Reservations only. Impossible to make last minute or onsite reservations (they are fully packed!)

Food tours every day except Fridays, when the Medina is partially closed  (friday is the holy day of the week, a day to be pray at the Mosque and to be spend with the family next to a big communal plate of couscous).

Tours conducted in English only.

Cost >> $60 USD x person (prices may vary, check their website for further information), tour includes all the food (and beverages like water, juice or soda), which is plenty, bring an empty stomach!

Note >> Marrakech Food Tours are closed during Summer season (June 17th – September 4th ) due to Ramadan and extremely high temperatures, but now is the right time to book your Autumn or Winter food tour.

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Aromas 'n Sabores is a canvas where we portrait healthy meals with an international spin but using local produces and what we have in our fridge.We aim to inspire your everyday by sharing recipes, travels, discoveries, some plantlove & green beauty.