Djemma al Fnaa is a large, asymmetrical plaza at the edge of the Medina in Marrakech. During the day, it’s home to some juice vendors, snake charmers, and tourists headed to and from the souk. At night, though, it fills up with food carts and stalls, and groups of musicians gather to perform surrounded by crowds and dancers.
I love street food! It’s so authentic and accessible to all. I find that the flavors are often purer and more intense than in more polished restaurant food, and though it’s important not to go overboard with fried or unhealthy foods, there’s no better way to understand a culture than through the food people gather to enjoy together in public spaces.
It’s also an affordable and enjoyable way to assemble your own tasting menu, without all the fuss and pretense of a fancy restaurant. I started off with a freshly-pressed fruit juice, then sampled a variety of flavored nuts (almonds with anise seeds were a favorite), then tried some grilled vegetable kebabs and a variety of salads.
My guide for this tour was chef Youssef, who steered me to the best places in the square before we ended up at a nearby place he used to work, up on the roof terrace overlooking the scene. We discussed the similarities between Moroccan and Indian cuisines — they have a deep clay oven very similar to a tandoor, for example — and we enjoyed a variety of deeply flavored stews. Dessert, as is so often the case in Morocco, was a platter of sliced fresh fruit with a little rosewater drizzled on top.