I must say that I am not much of a connoisseur of any particular substance, especially food. I eat for two reasons: 1. to fill my stomach; 2. for nutrition; and I try to do this in the absolute cheapest manner possible. I am rather base in this regard, as I do not go to great lengths to sample all of the little delicacies of any culture. When I enter a new region of the world, I try to quickly come up with a food strategy that consists of a couple of the cheapest dishes, intermixed with fruits , vegetables, and additional “bulkifiers”- like crackers or bread- that I procure from little shops and nibble on throughout the day. As soon as I find a couple of places in a given town to obtain my desired food rations (shops, restaurants, street carts etc . . .) I continuously go there repeatedly throughout my stay. There have been restaurants that I have eaten at three times a day for over a week and little shops whose owners think that I am mad for buying so much of their food.
In Morocco, even outside of Ramadan, I was surprised to find the food hunt to be a little more difficult than it usually is. First off, it seems as if most Moroccans do not often frequent restaurants, which creates a slight vacuum of available dining places and causes a rise in the prices. I was appalled at how much restaurant food costs in Morocco. A “cheap” meal can run around 25- 30 Dirham ($3-4). If I were to eat at these places multiple times a day, I would invariable be spending at least 10- 12 dollars a day on food. This is far beyond a vagabond’s daily fare. Also, most restaurants in Morocco (except for those that cater to tourist and charge tourist prices) do not serve food until the middle of the afternoon.
I need to eat in the morning. This is something about my upbringing that I have found to be unshakable. When I awaken to a new day, the first thing that I seek out is food. I am like a bear in this regard, and I act like one as well prior to eating breakfast (just ask Mira).
This being said, I found it far more prudent to avoid restaurants in Morocco until evening, and eat only one prepared meal a day (or every other to every third day depending on circumstances). To enable this, I found that I had to purchase food outside of the restaurant sector: I had to go to the markets.
But I even found buying food at the markets to be a daunting task in Morocco. First off, it was a routine experience for the vendor to try to overcharge me for produce, which is a tough fight to handle when you do not speak a local language. Secondly, I usually did not have any place to cook food for myself in Morocco, and I do not carry a stove with me. So the markets only became a good place for buying fresh fruit and raw vegetables. In order to supplement my diet with protein and carbohydrates, I found that I had to buy food at little corner food shops.
These little shops seem to take the place of the supermarket in Morocco, and they are horridly expensive. The prices at these places even rival that of Europe or the United States, as I was regularly forced to pay $1.50 for a can of tuna fish, $1 for crackers, $1.50 for a small chunk of cheese, and over a dollar for juice. In point, Self-catering in Morocco is not a cheap endeavor.
Eating, in general, in Morocco is not cheap. I get the impression that food there is far more expensive than what it should be. But, then again, the Moroccans seem to be a culture of dire opportunists. The overly high price of food is just another needless hurdle that the traveler has to jump through daily for the privilege of wandering in Morocco. There is nothing else that can be done. I think that I got by on a horrible diet for the excessive price of 8 dollars a day. That is too much money to pay daily for a long duration. (Note: I am not even paying 8 dollars a day to eat well in Western Europe).
My Moroccan food strategy:
Breakfast- can of tuna fish, crackers, fruit, milk
Lunch- sardines or deli meat (bad), a carrot, a banana, orange juice
Dinner- cheap restaurant: tagine or couscous (chicken or beef), soup
or any combination of breakfast or lunch foods
In all, I neither ate well nor cheaply in Morocco. I left the country feeling weak and worn out, and needed to be regenerated by the good, wholesome, reasonably priced food of Western Europe. I do not think, in eight years of travel on five continents, I have ever had such an unsatisfying experience with food than I had in Morocco.
I do not recommend the country for culinary delights; unless, of course, you are packing a good big wad of money.
Wade from www.VagabondJourney.com
October 8, 2007
- Moroccan Food
- Travel food strategy
- Morocco Travel
For more photographs from Morocco please go to Photos from Morocco