Morocco is a wonderful country full of culture, history, beautiful scenery and lovely people. No matter where you go on your Moroccan adventure there are three experiences that you absolutely cannot leave the country without trying.
Drink Mint Tea
Mint Tea is a huge part of the Moroccan culture. It’s almost always offered to guests as a welcome drink and traditionally made by the head male in the family. It is impolite to decline a tea offer, though you’d surely never want to as it’s so delicious. Moroccan mint tea is made using green tea, sugar and a large heap of fresh mint leaves and is usually served from the tea-pot into colourfully decorated glasses.
Moroccans love their pastries and sweets so be sure to pop into one of the many patisseries and sample the delish biscuits. You get charged by the gram but it won’t cost you more than a few dollars for a big box full.
A Hammam is a steam room, similar to Turkish baths, where Moroccans go at least weekly to cleanse themselves. The ritual is just as much about socialising as it is about giving their bodies a deep clean as the women (and men in separate bath houses, of course) catch up on the local gossip as they scrub each others backs and relax in the steam rooms.
Whilst many hotels and riads in Morocco offer private Hammam treatments (for a much steeper price) the traditional way is to visit one of the public bath houses with the locals. Whilst Morocco is a traditionally Muslim country where the women are covered head to toe, the Hammams are a big exception where nudity is not an issue in the slightest. This can be a bit daunting for westerners who are not used to walking around naked in front of hundreds of other women.
You can pay one of the local women (who will also be naked, so don’t be surprised if her boob hits you as she scrubs you) to help you with your hammam treatment for a small fee as the process can be confusing and daunting if you don’t understand it.
Once you’ve stripped off your clothes in the change room you’ll proceed to walk through multiple chambers of differing temperatures until you reach the last room where you will sit naked among hundreds of other woman. After buckets of hot water have been thrown over you, you will be washed with special black soap which you’ll be left to absorb for quite some time (my lady didn’t speak any English and so I was a little confused as to why I was left sitting in this room for a good twenty minutes), before the exfoliation process starts. Using special gloves and the ladies skilled and super strength, you will be scrubbed vigorously until your skin is red raw. You will be amazed at just how much dry skin will come off, it’s crazy (and a bit gross). Afterwards you will have your hair washed before you sit in the extra hot chamber and relax in the steam room.
The hour-long process is a great way to absorb yourself in the local culture and experience something unique to the region. I did this in one of the local bath houses in Fes, which was organised through the reception at the hostel I was staying at. It cost me 20 Dirham for the soap and gloves and 100 Dirham for the ladies services.
If you are a bit shy and not super comfortable with being touched or being naked in public this one may not be for you but if you are open to new cultural experiences and not overly body concious then I really recommend trying a traditional Hammam treatment for yourself!
The cultural dish of Morocco is without a doubt the traditional Tagine. The North African stew is prepared by slow cooking it in a clay, earthenware pot with a conical lid which is filled with meats, vegetables, nuts, olives and fruit. You’ll never have the same tagine twice with each restaurant or riad having their own unique recipes and ways of cooking it. It is often accompanied with Couscous, though can be eaten as is. I had two highlights, the one served whilst sleeping in the Sahara desert and a deconstructed one (with fries) at Chez Hicham, Chefchaouen.
The Moroccan pie in the picture below is also worth a try – chicken and vegetables on the inside with icing sugar and cinnamon on top. Sounds weird but trust me on this, it’s AMAZING.
Drink Fresh Orange Juice
I’m not much of an orange juice drinker normally but Morocco is known for their amazing oranges and therefore their tasty, fresh juices.