If you are among the lucky travelers who spend some time renting a home-away-from-home in Morocco, you’ll have the great pleasure of shopping in the local food markets. While many towns of a larger size have “super” markets offering all products ~ vegetables, tinned & paper products ~ needed to stock a kitchen, I recommend the pleasure of shopping the way the Moroccan locals shop.
First, walk your neighborhood and locate the vegetable & fruits market. Sometimes a Moroccan farmer will bring his harvest and sit on a corner with his harvest (often just one such as cactus fruits) in a basket or more of a selection artfully arranged on a tarp on the ground. Middlemen will offer a variety of vegetables or fruits at their stands in a covered building.
Fruits and vegetables are fresh-fresh-fresh from the local farm. Not flown in from Peru. This is the way to taste the real thing! Salad greens are sometimes scarce. Remember Moroccans prefer cooked vegetable salads or raw salads that do not contain greens. So if you’re craving a tossed salad, when you see a head of lettuce, grab it! Be sure to wash all thoroughly before consuming.
There are the vendors with dried fruits and nuts. In some regions there are as many as 35 varieties of dates! Try as many as you can afford. A small bag of cashews or almonds with some dates or raisins make a tasty and portable snack.
The pickle vendor with the vast selection of olives and pickles is difficult to resist. There are dozens to choose from, spicy and not, pink, green and black. The pickle vendor will often have hand-pressed olive and argan oil for sale, too. Do purchase a small bottle to top your salads.
In all cases, the price of any size such as a small bag of olives or a large basket of vegetables or fruits or other is somewhat negotiable. If you are of the bargaining kind, by all means, practice! To feed only myself, I find it less stressful to contain my bargaining to more costly items such as textiles and jewelry.
Depending on the length of your stay, you may develop a happy relationship with these vendors who recognize you and make a friendly joke. Common language not required! I assure they are always pleasant
When you master the cooker (stove/range) in your rental, do experiment with your finds! Look forward to Part II of Moroccan local markets where we will explore how to shop for Moroccan meat and fish in the markets and meet spice vendors. Happy Shopping!
By Freya Ellinwood, Morocco Travel Writer
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