Moroccan Street Food

Grabbing a bite at one of the seemingly infinite snack carts in Morocco’s medinas is a wonderful way to interact with locals and indulge in some fast food, Morocco-style. For a true taste of local flavor, it doesn’t get any better (or cheaper)! Moroccan street food generally ranges between 1-10Dh per serving, making this ideal for those traveling on a shoestring budget.

Sunset over Jemaa el-Fnaa
Evening at Jemaa el-Fnaa, where visitors can find all manner of food stands and local culture. Photo © Simon Hack/Dreamstime.

One of the more common street foods you’ll find is a steaming bowl of snail soup, a brothy treat perfect for the escargot lover. The snails are typically seasoned with a warm mix of spices such as licorice, cinnamon, bay leaves, and the eponymous ras el-hanoot.

In the north, you’ll likely see street vendors with large, round pies on hot plates. These are caliniti, derived from the Spanish caliente: a savory, flan-like treat made of chickpeas. It’s almost always generously seasoned with cumin and har (a spicy chili pepper), but if you’re up for it, dial up the heat by asking for more spices to shake on yourself.

Another chickpea treat is hoomus (from hummus). This steamed snack of whole chickpeas is generously seasoned with salt and cumin. It’s something akin to popcorn, usually served in a paper cone and made to be eaten on the go.

bowls of soup
Bissara soup in the Fez medina. Photo © Lucas Peters.

A more filling indulgence is bissara, generally made with fava beans, though sometimes with split peas. This is a thick, hearty soup, popular with sailors for its rumored ability to heal rheumatism and pulmonary disease. This staple is usually served with a generous half loaf of round bread, plenty of olive oil, and chili pepper.

Barbecues are also immensely popular, offering brochettes of seasoned chicken and beef, as are the fruit vendors, with tropical delicacies sold by the slice. For some energy on the go, consider the local nutjob who’ll be selling a variety of roasted nuts—such as walnuts, almonds, and cashews—that can be had for peanuts…horrible puns fully intended.

To wash it all down, consider grabbing a refreshing, energizing sugar cane juice — these are surprisingly full of proteins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and potassium, as well as vitamins A, B-complex, and C. Of course, if sugar cane juice isn’t your thing, fresh-squeezed orange juice or a free public water fountain are never far away. Whatever you guzzle, you’ll want to pack your own bottle to wash and refill as the alternatives are plastic cups or glasses that are not always thoroughly cleaned.

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