“Lawd … meh belly full … ah cyar eat no more … but ok … one more piece. <Two minutes later>…. aight, aight … gimme ah small plate of <insert food item here>”
Trinidadians love their bellies. It’s part of our culture, it’s part of our heritage and part of what makes a Trini, a Trini. After a second night in the Djemaa, I realize that if I don’t go to the gym at some point, all the weight I’ve lost hiking and traipsing will come back with a vengeance.
Houssam and I braved the crappy, rainy weather to satisfy my current Harira addiction. I don’t know what it is about Harira, but I can’t stop eating the damn thing … in fact my measure of currency … is now in bowls of Harira ( a bowl can go for 3-5 dirhams … anything more, is overpriced … and it has nothing to do with gourmet etc … the best bowl of Harira ever was 3 dirhams) … I to get a phonecard, and it cost me 18 bowls of Harira, while my taxi ride to the hotel cost me 7 bowls of Harira.
In the Djemaa, there are tons of food options. In fact, it is impossible to see all the options unless you’re here for three nights eating every night. The first stop was what I called Harira #1, where you can get sweets and harira together … cost price 3 dirhams for a bowl and 3 dirham for date sweets/gateau (it’s not cake). Vendors in the Djemaa apply one of my fundamental beliefs about cooking … do one or two things but do them amazingly. If you want multiple course, you’re better off going from stall to stall trying little bits and pieces.
Now one thing that might appease the germophobes, I took my own bowl and my own glass from the hotel to eat and drink in.
The reason is that on first night, I noticed that no one has running water in Djemma, everyone brings their own water. I don’t know where the water came from, how long it was sitting there, or where it was collected from but me and any water borne disease are not friends. If you take your own bowl, glass and cutlery, you will not be met by crazy stares and evil looks, since it means that it is one less thing for the washers to do … if you’re like me, take your wares to the Djemma. I noticed that the washers used the same water for rinsing and washing, and if there is no running water, then you do the math on this … I don’t care if all the Moroccans have no problem with it … I do and that’s what is important … I had an issue, I took steps to alleviate the issue and everyone was fine with it.
Next stop, was for Tangina. This is a big old pot of stewed “dead animal”, it typically is made with beef or mutton simmered for 12-24 hrs in a bubbling pot. In addition, Houssam has now dubbed me the “Harissa” guy … since I will not eat of the food with Harissa (Tunisian/Moroccan hot sauce) . The Tangina came with bread, a plate of something and some tea.
Next, it was for the typical tourist thing here in the Djemaa … the Sheep’s Head. Now I don’t typically eat the head, entrails, guts or kidneys of any animal. That being said, I did have to try a piece of it, just for the experience and although not terrible, it isn’t something that comes natural to me, hence it was my first and last try of it.
After all that, it was time for a snack and the fruit vendors are all around just waiting for a sale.
Next, I was a bit thirsty, so I whipped my Le Meredien glass and headed to the fresh juice stall, and 3 dirhams, you can get a glass of freshly squeezed Orange Juice … no Tropicana/President’s Choice for me.
Then it was on to bowl #2 of Harira, then another Tajine de Kafta. I really do love the Tajines here and the fact that it is cooked with olive oil and not Smen makes me feel even better about the whole thing. Then it was on to another stall for tea and sweets. Then to a Cafe for another tea and coke. Then another bowl of Harira!
The incredible thing about tonight, wasn’t the eating but the prices:
- Tajine De Kafta with bread and Harissa – 30 dirhams
- 3 bowls of Harira – 13 dirhams
- Tea and sweets – 6 dirhams
- Tangina, bread, tea and harissa – 17 dirhams
- Fresh Orange Juice – 3 dirhams
So basically for a ridiculous orgy of non stop eating all night along with the human drama and entertainment of the Djemaa, it cost me about 70 dirhams (9$ CDN). What can I get in Toronto for $9 on a regular night … a falafel combo, a Wendy’s burger combo … kinda sad isn’t it?[smugmug url=”http://www.rishisankar.com/hack/feed.mg?Type=gallery&Data=11402576_bfHhg&format=rss200″ title=”Djemma%20el%20Fna” imagecount=”5″ start=”1″ num=”5″ thumbsize=”Th” link=”smugmug” captions=”false” sort=”false” window=”true” smugmug=”true” size=”M”]