After a breakfast of Moroccan pancakes, apricot preserves, dates and tea, Christian took us for an orientation walk in the Medina, through the labyrinthine souks and then to the less touristy, local neighborhoods. After that, Rohan and I found a little hole in the wall tagine place in a narrow street close to our Riad, run by two very nice young men. “This is it”, Rohan said, which is traveling shorthand between us that means we have punched through the tourist layer and found a real local place that promises authentic food and experience. Yes, he is always right. Sure enough, we had an amazing Merguez sandwich with grilled veggies, egg and Harissa and a petite tagine of lamb, potatoes, peas, zucchini and preserved lemons. We also got a lesson in Moroccan Arabic from the two young men and two Moroccan customers who shared the only table with us. We learned the words for all the ingredients plus welcome, thank you and goodbye, come again.
It was the perfect lunch. “Are you happy we came to Morocco?”, I asked Rohan, redundantly. He gave me the “What, are you stupid?” look and shook his head, grinning, as we headed to the Riad for a siesta.
On the way, we found ourselves distracted by the smell of frying fish coming from another hole in the wall. We wandered over and saw a place packed with locals, all eating a single dish – fried sardines with grilled pepper, lemon and a single fish meatball in a spicy sauce, with the ubiquitous round flatbread. Only 10 dinars (1 usd = 8 dinars), the guy at the counter said, in French, and offered us a taste of the fish. “Get it!”, said Rohan emphatically, as I was wondering if we had room for a little extra. We enjoyed every bite, sitting next to a Japanese girl who was studying in France and taught us some much needed French words.