The supreme pleasure of the hammam experience deserves a post of its own. Here’s how it works:
On our first night in Marrakech we had one of those meals I’ll always remember as excellent.
A traditional Moroccan dinner is a lengthy affair that will send you to bed with a stomach close to bursting. A typical dinner starts with something small to nibble on, some olives or peanuts in tiny plates. Then come “mixed Moroccan salads,” which have nothing to do with salads as we know them, but consist of close to magical spreads of equally magical bright colors: tomato, carrot, olive, eggplant, cucumber, beetroot. There is a zucchini dip that tastes like jam, an olive and green onion one that reminded me of a dish my grandmother makes on Christmas Eve and a lentil dish that no one noticed because it was the least colorful. You dip piece after piece of soft white bread in these heavenly dips and are already satiated but your meal hasn’t even begun!
The sounds of Marrakech Medina, as heard during a nap after flying in at 6 a.m.:
the buzzing of flies
birds chirping loudly
the imam’s call to prayer
children yelling in the street
Marrakech is a crazy place. This sounds like a big cliché, I am aware, but it’s true – I had no idea what I was in for. First off, Marrakech has two very distinct faces. There is the new town, the area called Gueliz around the 16th of November square that commemorates the return of the royal family from exile in 1955. The new town is not too exciting but you can find some good restaurants, bars and general shopping, including, surprisingly to me, the likes of Zara. In fact, if you stand between two shopping blocks and happen to only see women dressed in clothes you are used to, of whom there are many, you may think you are in one of many other cities in the world. People go by, cars go by, the sun shines with scorching heat over you, the bareheaded tourist. The only thing that might strike you as different here, if you haven’t gotten used to it by now, is the rosy red color of the buildings. Marrakech, the Red City.