Some of my fondest memories of studying abroad and living in Africa were made while road tripping around Morocco. Almost every weekend, a group of West Point cadets an American-Moroccan and I (the rambunctious Puerto Rican), would hit the roads and drive loooong distances in order to discover some of Morocco’s treasures. One of my favorite adventures, indeed, was venturing through the Essaouira fish market, buying some fish/manta rays, and taking them to the nearest hole-in-the-wall restaurant to have them cooked!
The most shocking part of this “culinary adventure” is how easy it is to cross off your travel bucket list. All we did was wander through the Essaouira fish market, pick the good-looking fish, manta rays, then venture out and get lost in the town’s alleys until we found a restaurant that called our name!
Granted, we had an American-Moroccan girl with us, fluent in darija (the Moroccan Arabic dialect). However, after “assessing” the experience, I concluded that as long as you can memorize some numbers (or recite them from a piece of paper) in order to bargain prices at the fish market + learn how to say “would you please cook this fish?” in darija, you should be able to do this by yourself, foreign adventurer you! 😉 I remember doing some serious bargaining (and saving lots!) while shopping in Egypt’s Khan El Khalili markets when I was just starting my Arabic classes. In short? It is possible. Just gather some courage and go – it’s so much fun!
Besides sardines and manta ray though, what other delicacies may you find at the Essaouira fish market? Well…
So you got your fish prepped and ready to go, but the mazes of the town of Essaouira confuse you? Given that I’m a very visual navigator (give me street names and I’ll end up somewhere else), I’ll show you some pics of the surroundings of the hole-in-the-wall we picked to have our fish cooked. Who knows, you may see these and be able to find it yourself! Fun project 😉
More surprises? Indeed. Some Moroccan kids that were wandering the streets just tagged along, and with our Moroccan-American friend Laura entertaining in darija, we ended up buying them some backpacks for school — and even invited them to break the Ramadan fast with us later that day.
The day at the Essaouira fish market and around town was great – one of my happy places indeed!
Have you ever been to Essaouira, Morocco? Comment below!
all photos from this entry (C) Kristopher Kilgroe, fellow traveler!