Why a cooking class is the best souvenir of Morocco.

I don’t know about you, but my biggest obsession while travelling is food. Find it, eat it and, obviously, share it with the locals and the travel buddies. Food and people are at the core of the experiential travel, the only rising trend which is actually for the better: Don’t just look. Do!

There are many stereotypes that come to mind when you think about Morocco: dessert dunes, palm oasis, camel rides, snake charmers. All of them exist, of course, but there is so much to this country than meets the eye and food is just one of them.

On my last visit to Morocco I had a resolution: a cooking class! For someone who never gets her eggs right (how do you want them: hard or harder?), this cooking affair was something major. I made sure that my insurance covers my ten fingers and woke up motivated to attend the class.

We met our chef at Jemaa el-Fnaa and headed off to the local daily market with a list of groceries in one hand and a purse and some coins in the other. We were facing a double challenge: buy the necessary within the given budget and not get lost in the process. Markets are fascinated places where locals come to interact and the freshest produce is put on display. It is a brief but perfect infusion of local life.

Young and old men in djellabas stood behind their stands selling: olives, oranges, bananas, pickled lemons, spices, onions, tomatoes, meat and so much more. The souk was packed with busy women bargaining and buying the juiciest products for a freshly cooked meal with their families.

Buying the right produce in a swarming market may not be as obvious as it sounds, so the salvation comes from looking around and trying your best to imitate what the locals are doing.

Next stop, a white and cosy traditional house with colourful zillige, huge wooden doors and orange trees in the courtyard, site of our cooking lesson and lunch. The ladies served us a delicious mint tea and we rolled our sleeves ready for action. Under the sharp eye and pursed lips of the dada in charge, we peeled carrots, scored eggplants, chopped onions, rolled briouates, baked cookies and made jokes sneakfully like students in the third grade.

We even paid a visit to the communal oven round the corner to entrust our sweet delights that were ready just in time for tea.

After all this immersion in the cooking process, we lunched on freshly cooked salads, juicy meat tagine and fluffy sweet goodies in an epic Moroccan setting worthy of a fairy tale.

Beside a full tummy, this experience will leave you with an authentic connection with the local culture and other likeminded travellers and will allow you to bring home a souvenir (the booklet with the recipes you cooked) that will give your friends and family a true taste of your travels to Morocco!

P.S. Keep in mind that: “Cuisine is the only attraction that is available year-round, in any weather, at any time of day, even on holidays” (The World Food Travel Association) and give a chance to cooking classes on your next trip to Morocco.

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