Ilivetolearn's Blog

December 10, 2005

last day in the Imperial cities

Filed under: food/groceries,on the road,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 11:31 pm

We let the kids sleep in while we ventured into the Meknes medina for a visit to a recommended museum. It was a frigid morning with a bone-chilling wind and of course we got lost and spent about an hour trekking about cursing the weather. Maps (at least the ones in our guide book, and probably others attempting to reproduce the tangle of ancient narrow passageways in medinas) are useless. We finally stopped for café au lait (it has never tasted so good) and the proprietor of the joint pointed us in the right direction; after only four more wrong turns and five more requests for guidance, we found it. Great collection of Berber carpets and saddlebags and spinning/weaving tools, displayed in a gorgeous mansion that was the vizier’s home and place of business, whatever the business of the vizier was. Couldn’t dissuade the resident guide, who was smarmy but at least took us into restricted parts we otherwise wouldn’t have seen, like a music gazebo in the garden, and the old mosque on the premises, before extracting his tip.

At the exit was a huge plaza ringed with tourist-crap stalls, but down a little alley we stumbled upon the market area. The butchers presided over the usual grosseties (well, if niceties is a word, why not?) but the spice merchants and fruit sellers had absolutely stunning displays; pyramids of glistening olives in more colors than I knew existed in the olive universe, piles of richly-hued and fragrant herbs…and they all had 7-spice and 45-spice mixtures (no other numbers) carefully arranged so that each mound was a mosaic. Beautiful. We bought some of the 7-spice stuff and I am looking forward to creating Morocco-inspired dishes that are not dumbed down for tourist palates.

Went back and checked out. Our attempt to pack the car and pull away from the curb in front of the hotel was the worst yet, involving a collision with an egg-delivery cart. I fully expected to be pelted with eggs as we drove off, but I think the Meknesians were too stunned by the whole scene to act fast enough. We headed for Tangiers and points north, but that journey will have to wait for a future entry.

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