Essaouira fish market: Authentic Moroccan adventure (photo essay)

January 13, 2012

Morocco, Photos

way to the Essaouira fish market
way to the Essaouira fish market

On our way to the Essaouira fish market!

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!

Essaouira fish market fortress

fortress by the Essaouira fish market

Essaouira fish market surroundings

...getting closer to our destination!

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!

Essaouira fish market, sardines

Our first purchase @ the fish market was a batch of sardines

Essaouira fish market manta rays

...and one manta (yes, I ate Moroccan ray)

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!

Essaouira fish market experience

they prep the manta upon purchase, so it is ready-to-eat once you're out!

Essaouira fish market

prepping other fish we bought

Besides sardines and manta ray though, what other delicacies may you find at the¬†Essaouira fish market? Well…

Essaouira fish market sharks

shark (which we skipped)

fish market in Essaouira, Morocco

aaand that too...

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 ;)

Essaouira fish market experience

first you see these shops...

Essaouira fish market adventure

...then enter this alley! (view right outside the rest. that cooked our fish)

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.

Essaouira fish market: Culinary adventure

first things first - let's get our fish to a local kitchen!

Essaouira Ramadan

ready to break the fast! Sardines, manta ray and some other unknown fish! None of us got sick - win!

Essaouira - fall 2009

shopping for school supplies

The day at the Essaouira fish market and around town was great – one of my happy places indeed! :)

Essaouira, Morocco - fall 2009

aww - Good memories! =)

Have you ever been to Essaouira, Morocco? Comment below!

all photos from this entry (C) Kristopher Kilgroe, fellow traveler!

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