Tangier, Morocco (Africa) – Part 4
By Nancy Hartman of What’s Cooking America
Destino – Tangier, Morocco (Africa):
A New Stamp In My Passport: After breakfast we walked to the port to catch our morning ferry to Tangier, Morocco where I planned to celebrate my 50th birthday. We were unsure what to expect regarding the atmosphere and safety, so we opted to hire a guide for our day trip. The guide, Jamal from Said tours, was very attentive from the very beginning of our journey. Our ferry tickets were reserved for us and all we had to do was show up with our passports and pick up the tickets
Although there are several crossings from Spain to Morocco daily, we chose to take the FRS ferry from Tarifia because it is one of the shortest and fastest crossings from Spain with only a 35-minute ferry ride to Tangier. This ferry line has the most voyages per day and some of the cheapest tickets. Tarifa is also said to be a nicer place to visit than the other ports on the Spanish side.
Once on the ferry, we settled in and noticed a line forming on the far side. I asked my husband, “What do you suppose that line is for?” He commented back that I was always so nosey. Well it turns out that the passport control takes place on board the ferry during the journey over to Tangier. We discovered this after a trip to the “WC” which was near the front of the line. An experience traveler told us to be sure to get a stamp before we leave the ferry. We quickly gathered ourselves and jumped in the line to get our stamp of entry into Morocco. I bit my tongue, but still gave my husband the “I told you so” look.
Disembarking in Tangier, there was Jamal of Said VIP tours holding a sign with my name. It was a nice feeling to have someone meeting you on the other side to take care of the details for the day. We shared our tour with an American family who were returning from Russia. They had been stationed there as a Naval Attaché for the embassy, and he was getting his family back to the states due to the unrest in Russia. We got a little inside information on the status of Russia and thanked him for his service to the USA.
Rocking the Kasbah and the Sultans of Swing: We had a blast in Tangier! We rode camels, “Rocked the Kasabah”, visited the Sultan’s palace, had a Tajen lunch, got sucked into a carpet shop, and almost lost Mom to a beautiful Berber carpet. It was a long but fun 50th birthday – I feel like we did it up right!
The Kasbah – The Kasbah is the older part of the city that is the central or medina of the city, the fortress or safe place where the Sultan would live. We found ourselves high on a hill in Tangier with a great view of the ocean.
Doorways to the ocean
We were impressed by all the interesting doors on the buildings and the elaborate tile work. According to our guide, we have not “Rocked the Kasbah.”
Sultan’s Palace: The Dar-el-Makhzen (or Sultanate Palace) is a historical building in Tangier, which was the seat of residence for the Sultans of Morocco when staying in the city. The old Sultan’s palace (built in the 17th Century) lies within the Kasbah’s walls, is known as Dar El Makhzen and is now a museum that houses fine examples of Moroccan art. We were impressed by all the interesting doors on the buildings. According to our family, we have now “Rocked the Kasbah.”
Snake Charmer: I could have passed up this part of the tour, as I am not a snake lover! It looked like our snake charmer was actually bit by one of the snakes. He quickly put that snake into one of the baskets. He asked us if any of us wanted to hold the snake! Of course, we backed away with a NO!
Camel Rides: Our family has now crossed off camel rides from our “Bucket Lists.” An interesting experience and I can now say that I have done it. There was no spitting – but lots of camel pee!
The Market (Casa Barata): The market consists or a maze of narrow walkways or streets winding throughout the market. The deeper you go into the market, the narrower the walkways become. If you do not know the layout of the market, you could easily get lost without a guide. Fortunately, our guide, Jamal, was with us the entire time!
The Carpet Baggers: One of the shops we stopped at was a Moroccan Rug Shop in the Market. We came here as part of the tour to “Learn” about Berber rugs. It all started out innocent enough, but before long we found our party divided, and my Mom was ready to buy a rug. The experience was fun to watch but the sales got aggressive, a bit pushy and even physical as one of the carpet baggers grabbed my Mom’s wrist. It was an experience to watch, as it was like a timeshare pitch, very strategic and aggressive! In the end Mom did not buy a carpet because they actually scared her.
Comida – Moroccan Lunch: This part of the tour, we enjoyed most in Tangier. Who would not enjoy delicious food and it was delicious! We were served a tagine lunch at a typical Moroccan restaurant. We were well cared for, the food was fresh, and the seafood was bright. We sampled Moroccan bread, lentils, Tagine dishes, and a delightful fresh fruit desert of oranges and strawberries that we sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
Moroccan Cuisine has long been considered as one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Arab, Berber, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, African, Iberian, and Jewish. Over time, these influences have been refined into a distinctly Moroccan cuisine.
Tagine is a casserole or stew traditionally cooked over a smoldering charcoal fire in a two-piece, cone-shape, earthenware vessel, which is also called a tagine and from where the dish gets its name. Tagine dishes come in many combinations such as beef with prunes, chicken with preserved lemon, and lamb with dates.
Lamb Tagine with Sesame Prunes
This Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Sesame Prunes dish is a traditional Moroccan tagine recipe which typically includes a combination of braised meat (often lamb, beef or chicken), fruits, root vegetables, and fragrant spices like cinnamon, saffron, and ginger).
Mahrash Moroccan Flat Bread
Bread (knobz) is both the plate and the fork where communal eating takes place. In Morocco, diners surround the tagine using bread to scoop the food and absorb the sauces in Moroccan cuisine. This Mahrash Moroccan bread is characterized by a round, somewhat-flat shape and a slightly coarse texture. The disc shape of khobz allows for lots of crust, which is ideal for dipping and scooping up tagines, salads, and other Moroccan dishes. Many Moroccans will remove and discard the soft interior from thicker loaves of bread to use just the crust for scooping up foods.
First Row (left to right): Artichoke Dip, Spiced Green Olives, and Chicken Tangine with Vegetables.
Second Row (left to right): Green Salad with Tuna, Fresh Fruit Salad of Oranges and Strawberries sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and Moroccan Beans.
Categories:Travels in Spain