Wednesday, 22 July 2009

food bling photos - Morocco

I'd really love to have more photos up on my blog. Although I've got a pretty handy Canon SLR camera (it's a 450D for all you real photographers), I don't want to lug it with me into every restaurant. So most of the photos you'll find on the blog are taken with my phone. While my phone takes some decent photos, it's hopeless in low light (ie most restaurants).

As I'm currently enjoying a week at home with our first bub, I've been slowly trawling my way through the ridiculous amount of photos on my hard drive. I thought that surely there would have to be a few decent ones to throw up on the blog.

The first batch of photos come from our honeymoon in Morocco in 2007. We had an amazing 3 weeks in Morocco, and food played a huge part of the overall experience. It's hard to find a bad meal in Morocco, and even travelling on the Australian dollar it wasn't difficult to enjoy fantastic food.

The first two photos are of the Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech.

The Djemaa el Fna is the main square in Marrakech. Our riad in Marrakech was about 2 minutes walk to the Djemaa el Fna. At night time the Djemaa el Fna completely overloads your senses. It's impossible to give the full sense of the place on this blog, and these photos don't even start to do it justice. Just as it gets dark, hundreds of food stalls set up all over the square, serving all kinds of amazing Moroccan food. But it's not all just about the food - there are snake charmers, dancers, live music and these guys that tell amazing stories to huge crowds of people (I understand about 3 words of Arabic, but would listen to these incredibly theatrical story-tellers just for the entertainment and the reaction of the crowds).

As most Moroccans tend to eat dinner fairly late, we'd sit up on the roof of our riad in the early evening, wondering where we would end up for dinner. In the meantime, we'd hear constant drums and music from the square, see smoke rising in the air from all the ad-hoc restaurants and (best of all) smell the magical aromas of dinners being cooked for hundreds of Moroccans. As far as I'm concerned, visiting the Djemaa el Fna is one of the food (and sensory) highlights of the world.

To be perfectly frank, I have to admit that I got terribly sick in Marrakech, after eating at one of the restaurants in and around the Djemaa el Fna. Although I ended up not being able to eat or drink anything for two days, it will never deter me from eating with the locals. I'd rather end up sick for a couple of days than spending my holidays at the closest McDonalds.

The next photo doesn't include any food at all. But it's probably the most amazing setting in which I've ever been lucky enough to enjoy breakfast, anywhere on our travels.

This photo is the terrace at Madada Mogador in Essaouira, where we were served breakfast every morning. Our room actually opened up onto this terrace. We'd drag ourselves out of bed after a lazy sleep-in and walk out onto the terrace. What followed was a beautiful breakfast of fresh orange juice, yoghurt, fresh fruit, Moroccan pancakes, honey, jam, tea and coffee. As you can see, the terrace looked out over the whole of the bay that surrounds Essaouira. It was incredibly hard to actually get back out of the chair and leave - why would you bother with a view like this?

The last photo again lacks any actual food, but it's another table with an unbeatable view. This photo is the view from the terrace of Dar Mouna, our beautiful hotel in Ait Ben Haddou. Again we were lucky enough to eat breakfast from this terrace, admiring the view of an incredibly well preserved kasbah. Ait Ben Haddou is one of the most famous kasbahs in Morocco, which has been used as a background for films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator. In the foreground is the bed of the Ouarzazate River, which is almost always dry.

As a result of our honeymoon, Moroccan food will always stick with me. Morocco traverses the entire spectrum of food, from the absolute simplicity of fresh, tangy orange juice which is served with every meal, to the delicious complexities of a slow cooked tagine. Ever since we returned from Morocco, I've had a jar of preserved lemons in the fridge - such a simple ingredient, but such a distinctively Moroccan flavour. I'm yet to cook a tagine at home that approaches any that we had in Morocco, but I'm determined to keep trying! Hope you enjoy the photos, and I'll try to find a few more food related pictures soon.

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