You have never truly eaten Moroccan cuisine unless you have eaten it in Morocco. I have had plenty of great tasting tagines in London, but none can match the one I ate on a rooftop in Essaouria one warm December evening. The day had been a leisurely affair of slow wandering through the town to the harbour. An hour spent watching the fishing boats unload their catches and then a long afternoon of retail therapy, choosing beautiful inlaid wooden boxes as gifts for those at home. Throughout the day, all five of my senses were overwhelmed by new experiences. As I walked around town I had been breathing in heady scents of spices, rich waterfront smells, the deep aroma of freshly carved thuja wood and an ever changing line-up of mouthwatering smells from restaurants, cafés and food stalls. At the same time my eyes (more used to London’s grey winter skies), were dazzled by the white painted houses bathed in bright sunshine from dawn till dusk. Inside the souk the visual assault continued with richly coloured spices set out in endless rainbows of little hand-painted bowls and the amazing inlaid woodwork for which Essaouria is famous. Mixed in with the local Berber language and French my ears could hear the constant refrain of circling seagulls. While the wind blowing sea spray off the ocean, coating the whole town with a fine salt dust, made even the sense of touch a stimulating experience. So, with all my senses heightened, when I sat down at the end of the day for a chicken tagine its beautifully rich flavours bore deep into my memory like no other meal has. Preserved lemon awoke my taste buds and contrasted wonderfully with the salty green olives. Whilst gentle hints of cumin, coriander and harissa provided warming background notes. Everything I’d experienced throughout the day seemed to come together in this one bowl of food. There are Morrocan restaurants in most of the world’s major cities but, because as I learned, all of our senses play a big part in our enjoyment of food; the most intense and memorably wonderful meals can only be found in the right location. Therefore, my advice to you is this: if you fancy a truly authentic Moroccan meal, grab your passport and head for the airport. Victoria Brenner is Director at The Couture Travel Company. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.
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