They say you haven’t tasted Morocco until you’ve visited a village market and sampled some street food. I’m here to do just that. People and food are the nuts and bolts of my travels and this experience ranked high on my to-do-list.
Despite increasing urbanization, Moroccans still retain a great attachment to the land and the village, and it’s there that your chances to experience real Morocco stand.
At 30 km NE of Essaouira, Had Draa is one of the largest markets in Morocco where animals, food and products of all sorts have been traded for centuries.
One thing’s for sure though, this market is not for the squeamish. A swirling universe of merchants, buyers, blacksmiths, vets, witchdoctors, barbers and fixers, swarming among piles of carrots , marrows, apples and more. Stalls packed with olives, spices, home-made cookies lie next to Berber-style doors, handmade saddle bags for donkeys and camels, and household effects. Made-in-China plastic items rub shoulders with djellabas and colourful traditional rugs.
And all this would look like an impersonal outdoor mega-mall of yore if it weren’t for the thousands of guys clustered together in small groups haggling, joking, poking and negotiating tough bargains under the hoods of their djellabas.
Within stone’s throw, there were stands after stands of fresh meat of any animal you’d care to eat and then some. To the right, a chain of pop-up tented-restaurants and cafés (not for the faint of stomach) would marvellously barbecue and season your fresh cuts and wash them down with the sweetest of mint teas. An epicurean feast from time immemorial! Vegetarians look away!
For those with countryside memories alongside grandparents that lived from the fruit of the land, this will trigger a nostalgic moment, but for the exclusively urban crowd, seeking out personal growth and healing from the footprints of modern existence, this is a chance to witness that life out there thrives and unfolds in its mysterious ways as it has done for centuries. Either way, this is an eye-opening experience that will stay with you forever.