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Food and drinks Morocco

Food: Places to eat can be found in all cities and larger villages. They vary from simple snack bars, often for local workers, to chic restaurants in the old palaces of the medinas in the big cities.Here you can spend hundreds of dirham on Moroccan haute-cuisine, often in combination with music and dance. In most of the medium-priced hotels, a limited range of salads, Moroccan and often Spanish or Italian type food is served, usually good enough and for a reasonable price, but nothing special. In the big cities, international restaurant and fast food chains have entered the market.

Meat is often the main base of Moroccan cuisine and meat stock is commonly used for soups. Bread is also a staple part of every meal. If you are vegetarian, or have allergies or special dietary requirements you may find your choice is limited, most particularly in rural and more remote areas.

Breakfast: Moroccans will often have breakfast consisting of tea, some dates and bread, a cooked egg and some olives. In the hotels, versions of the well-known Continental breakfast are served: French bread, jam, and sometimes croissants or cakes. Almost always fresh orange-juice is served.

Lunch and dinner :In Morocco two hot meals are eaten daily: lunch and dinner. The cheapest meal is the filling soup, harira, which is the starter during the fasting month of Ramadan, when people eat together after sunset. It is on all the menus year-round for a couple of dirham, and can always be served quickly as it is always ready. Many food stalls and smaller restaurants sell brochettes - skewers with grilled meat, sausages, meatballs or liver, primarily goat and sheep. These are usually served with French fries and salad for prices ranging between 20 and 40 dirham. Couscous and tajine are the most typical Moroccan dishes. Couscous is the national dish and is never absent on festive days. This dish is made of steamed semolina (crushed grains), served with a stew of vegetables, meat (usually lamb) and spices, in its juices. Tajine is a stew made of potatoes, several types of vegetable and meat on a china plate by the same name with a high ceramic cone fitting over it. Through its height, the tajine works as an oven, as the hot air circulates in the cone. Tajines come in many versions – ranging from a simple meal with some potatoes and bony pieces of goat costing maybe 20 dirham in a food stall for market sellers, to a sophisticated dish made of tender lamb, with onions, various vegetables, olives, nuts, and prunes, served in a prettily painted tajine decorated with a silver lining. The taste of the tajine will always be comparable, due to the set of spices used. The size of the tajine is chosen for the size of the company, some of them can feed as many as seven people. The dish is eaten with the right hand or with a fork, and everybody can pick up pieces from the tajine and nibble them, or break the accompanying bread and dip it in the juice and spoon up pieces of vegetable or meat with it.
Important festive dishes are mechoui, roast lamb and pastilla, which are eaten primarily in Fès, an oven dish of pigeon and almonds in thin puff pastry. If you want to eat these dishes in a restaurant, you will have to order them a day in advance. A delicious dish, which takes less time to prepare, is poulet au citron – tender chicken, simmered with olives and lemon. Sweet food is in good supply. A typical Moroccan desert is beghrir, pancakes with butter and honey, which are eaten during Ramadan, following the harira. Be very careful about eating raw salads. The vegetables are generally rinsed with tap water, and it is the bacteria in this water that gives trouble to most people. To avoid stomach and intestinal problems, make sure you eat only well-cooked and baked food.

Drink: Tea is offered everywhere. In shops to make you feel at home and to ease the purchasing, and in every Moroccan house where you are invited. Nana or mint tea is the national traditional drink. It is made using Chinese green tea (usually of the brand Gunpowder), fresh mint leaves and large chunks of sugar that turn the tea into a seriously sweet drink. The brewing of tea is never done hurriedly; it is a ceremony that is performed with some pride. It is recommended to drink only bottled water, and never un-boiled tap water. The tap water is being chlorinated nowadays and is said to be potable in most cities, but still causes many people problems. The water in Meknes is an exception to this rule, for unknown reasons. Sidi Ali or Sidi Harazem are two common brands of mineral water; a 1-litre bottle sells at around 6 dirham. Mineral water is also available in small bottles, which are convenient to take in a daypack. In a restaurant or hotel the price is easily double this amount. Coffee is served with a glass of water, but this is almost always tap water. An excellent alternative is the fresh fruit juices, of which orange juice; grapefruit juice and real lemonade (lemon juice with water and sugar) are the best. Tasty but not very effective to quench thirst are fruit juices from a blender, called panaché – such as banana and avocado juice and almond milk. A very sweet delicacy is jus de fraises, whole strawberries in syrup, which is served in the spring. In smaller towns, alcohol is sometimes unavailable. After all, Morocco is an Islamic country, and the few bars for Moroccans tend to be hard to find – dark rooms where men sit around tables with empty bottles on them. Moroccans that drink in such places usually are not limiting themselves just to one beer. Most hotels and restaurants that cater for foreigners serve beer and wine. The most common beer brands are Stork and Flag, both are light lagers. Moroccan white wine is simple, light and fruity. Moroccan red wines tend to be of varying quality, from excellent to undrinkable. Recommended wines are Guerrouane (also white), Valpierre (also white) and Cabernet du President.
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