Just a short flight from southern Spain, Morocco is a popular tourist destination for many Europeans looking for a new experience close to home; it’s also a perfect side trip to add on while travelling in Spain. If you’re planning to fully explore Morocco, Marrakesh is not to be missed.
The Medina of Marrakesh includes Jemaa el-Fnaa, North Africa’s largest square, marketplace and a UNESCO heritage site. It’s famed for its storytellers and the utter chaos surrounding it. Comprised of snake charmers, men with pet monkeys posing for photos, and women eager to give you henna tattoos; it’s a hodge-podge of spectacles. The square is also one of the main access points to the main souk – a labyrinth of market stalls hawking everything from argan oil gifts, leather goods, antique Berber jewelry, and fresh produce such as oranges or dates.
At nighttime, the snake charmers and fortune tellers make room for what may be considered the real charm of Jemaa el-Fnaa: the night market food stalls and story tellers.
When dusk arrives, food vendors quickly erect over 100 food stalls where cooks, almost all of them wearing white coats, work over open flames, chopping vegetables and grilling kebabs or sausages. Market stalls are set up with beautiful displays of local produce, nuts, spices and pastries.
At the food stalls, you can get a real taste of Moroccan street food. For the really adventurous foodies, you can try local delicacies such as snail soup or sheep heads. Most of the food is cooked in front of diners sitting at makeshift tables, allowing you to see food safety precautions. While the food vendors hustle tourists to their tables, the night markets are equally enjoyed by local families coming out to watch the nightly performance of storytellers.
Helpful tips for eating at Jema El Fnaa
- When you can’t read a menu, the best advice is to look around to see what others are eating and point!
- Looking for dessert or a late night snack to bring back to your hotel? Stop by one of many carts selling an assortment of sweet pastries — deep fried filo pastries with almonds, cookies or dates
- Overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the square? Ask your travel agent to help you organize a food tour through the market
- Want to experience the night stalls from a different perspective? Try one of the many cafes with rooftop patios overlooking the square, or sit at a restaurant patio around the square
- Enjoy a cup of Morocco’s beloved mint tea – usually extra sweet, or try a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice at one of the many stalls selling fresh produce in the square