Introduction

Introduction

By
Andy Harris
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740669610
Photographer
David Loftus

Marrakesh

On my first trip to Marrakesh, I was unable to sleep because of the cloying heat in my tiny room and the wail of the muezzin from the nearby Koutoubia mosque, calling the faithful to prayer. It was also nigh impossible to walk alone in the city without being hassled by aggressive gangs of locals, in search of dirhams in return for the dubious pleasure of escorting you through the meandering streets of the nearby souks. Mercifully the progressive King Mohammed VI has banned such blatant touting today, so it’s a real joy to wander around the labyrinthine medina again.

For the past ten years, I’ve been going to my best friend Trevor Hopkin's riad on an annual basis. We do little but explore the food markets and go to favourite shops and stalls in the souks to buy mad Moroccan kitchen utensils, colourful bowls and large unwieldy earthenware tagines that always seem to break on the trip home.

Like any holiday experiences, it gets tiring eating out every night so it’s always a pleasure to cook at home for family and friends. I spend most of my mornings at the Mellah Market buying fresh ingredients and try to make it to the Beldi Country Club just outside the city in the afternoon, where everyone’s ensconced around the pool drinking copious amounts of the quaffable local rosé wine. Back at the riad, there’s just time to prepare all the salads and tagines for our impromptu dinner parties, which always end in rowdy games of Scrabble played by an open fire.

Despite all the changes that tourism has brought to this timeless city (with all sorts of trendy hotels, restaurants and bars opening on every street corner), it’s the familiarity and integrity of its ancient markets–where you still choose your live chicken for the pot or simply take a tangia (an amphora–shaped earthenware pot) filled with meat, vegetables and spices to the local farnatchi (oven) to be slow-cooked in charcoal embers–that continues to excite me about Marrakesh. Joining the locals, who cook fresh dishes based on seasonal ingredients on a daily basis, I still feel that I’ve only just begun to discover the secrets of this inspirational and vibrant cuisine in the recipes created in this book.

Today, I’ve even got used to the regular croak of the muezzin and braying of the donkeys in the tortuous alleys, and always sleep surprisingly well.

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