You step out off the plane, but there’s a handle there, positioned ever so appropriately on your left, which is the second thing you notice by grabbing it as the thick oppressive smog belts across your face. Stumbling slightly, you walk down the stairs leading to the airport grounds, all the while joining in on the chorus of, “C'est très chaud,” created by the Parisian passengers. These woman outside the airport walk passed exposing only their beautiful long noses; men in the Souks promise you a special price whilst telling you that you look like a queen; donkeys and monkeys and snakes slowly slur about the main square, Place Jemaa El Fna, and all you can think in this well-practiced-mess, is how could anyone ever live in Marrakech? This city of heat and high temperatures and hot food and…. tagines.
“TouBakal,” he said is traditional and cheap and so we went there and sat down at tables wrapped in plastic, actually incredibly well done crispy bread, and as much cold bottled water as our tummies could contain. A new place of adventure cannot be embraced ignorantly, especially not when you are going to that place to explore their cuisine. And there are some foods you need to know about so you can search for them. Chicken Pstilla; shredded chicken mixed with sweet and almond and cinnamon and wrapped in filo pastry dusted with icing sugar; I think I like thee.
Jemaa El Fna is a place of repetition. In all due respect, Marrakech may maintain a notion of I’ve always done, so I’ll always do. But when you stand on heat radioactive concrete and face the at least twenty stalls all decorated with the exact same pattern of oranges and grapefruits and all selling these thirst quenching juices for 4dh, you do wonder if the lack of entrepreneurial fortitude here is really working out for them.
But then there is the stoppable, the shockable, the worth waking up before six to catch the plane for Lamb Tagine… of… my goodness how did someone think of this magnificent combination of spices and meat and just enough liquid and vegetables and cinnamon, and then came up with the idea of placing it all in this pot shaped like a tepee? And you realize then, in that moment of flavour manifestation, that perhaps tradition is savoured just as it should be here, amongst the prayer cries that frequent the Medina each day; or the Souks that look like themselves all over again when you turn the corner; and even the twenty uniform orange juice stalls all convincing you that your money would be spent best on their 35° oranges.