Eating and Drinking
Eating and drinking in Moulay Idriss is a wonderful experience, and again remember that you are not on the tourist route so you are not likely to find a set ‘tourist’ menu in the local restaurants. It is the locals themselves that are catered for and served in Moulay Idriss and this means that you eat food that is prepared by, and for, locals that you would also find them eating in their homes.
At Dar Zerhoune you can take home some recipes and learn how to make delicious Moroccan food with a cooking class in a local home or at Dar Zerhoune, or we can prepare a three course traditional meal for you to enjoy at your leisure at Dar Zerhoune. All dietary requirements catered for if advance notice given.
Around the main square there is alot of food stalls that you can buy a variety of food, so let me talk you through the different options.
There are many food stalls that prepare tagines, grilled meats and vegetables fresh for you to eat. Don’t feel overwhelmed by how many they are, just have a look at what they have to offer and choose where you would prefer to sit. My preference is to people watch, so I always pick a restaurant that I sit close to the main street. At other restaurants you can sit watching the view over the valley and Volubilis.
The tagine’s are a highlight as they are prepared in the morning and slow cooked over hot coals until the meat melts in your mouth and the vegetables have absorbed such an amazing flavour. I do not know anywhere that the tagine’s are prepared the same way and I recommend that you try one during your stay. Each food stall will be willing to show you what they have prepared and you are free to take your pick. If you have special dietary requirements, ie. Vegetarian, we can pre order a tagine for you to enjoy at the street restaurant for no extra cost.
These succulent kebabs are freshly prepared with local meats and cooked over the hot charcoal grills as you wait. The choices are usually kefta (minced meat with herbs), beef, chicken (sometimes marinated in lemon juice and herbs), turkey, liver and heart (the later very good for you apparently!). You are welcome to look at what is on offer and then point out your selection. Be warned, these portions usually come big!
At most of the restaurants you can ask for a lighter meal, and still enjoy the ambience. You can buy freshly made Harira (traditional soup usually with a beef stock), salads, fries, grilled peppers and aubergines, makouda (spicy potato cakes) and wash it all down with some mint tea.
At the fruit and vegetable souq you will find local, seasonal produce and it is one of the best souqs in morocco and you are welcome to make use of the kitchen at Dar Zerhoune to prepare a snack or a feast from your purchases.
Moulay Idriss is a fabulous place for cheap eats and snacks. From buying harsha (semolina based bread) or mlawi (flaky type pancake) from the street stalls, bread fresh from the bakery, fruit from the markets, dried fruit and nuts, nougat (a local speciality), fresh roasted sunflower and pumpkin seed, and there is even a popcorn making machine on the main square. You will not go hungry here, it is more likely that you will run out of time to sample all of the gorgeous food.
In Moulay Idriss it is not likely you will be charged inflated tourist prices, and to keep yourself safe do ask what the price is before you buy. For example when you are admiring a lovely cooked tagine, then ask how much it is before you choose it. Expect to pay about 25-50Dh for a tagine (depending on size, ingredients, etc. This will always come with bread. And the same for broquette’s, depending on what, and how much, you choose.
Tipping is part of the way of life in Moulay Idriss and Morocco, it is appreciated rather than expected. The best advice is to round up the bill. Ie. If your coffee is 4dh, then give 5Dh, or orange juice 8Dh, then give 10Dh. Tips can be given either straight to the waiter or left on the table. When you are eating add 10% and then again round this. For example if your meal comes to 140Dh, then leave 150Dh. And remember you are not obliged to do this so don’t feel uncomfortable either way.
You will not have moved far in Moulay Idriss without noticing the abundance or olive trees, the outcome of this is amazing preserved olives and fresh olive oil. This is the olive oil that is served for breakfast at Dar Zerhoune and it is so tasty. It is possible to buy olive oil to take with you, expect to pay 25Dh for a little and ask at Dar Zerhoune for a bottle that you can fill up.
One of the great things of Morocco is that what is grown is quickly transported to the souqs and eaten. Most of the produce is local and tastes like it is supposed to. What we enjoy here are in spring are apricots, peaches, nectarines, summer we have fresh figs, huge watermelons and prickly pears (the fruit from the cactus tree’s), autumn brings in pomegranates, in winter the sweetest gorgeous mandarins. Yummy
Moulay Idriss is a great place that you can sit at a coffee shop on the main square and watch locals go about their daily lives. It is not a problem, and in a way expected, that you will wile away a few hours in one spot, lost in your thoughts. You will find everything you expect at a coffee shop here, fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, fresh fruit milkshakes, avocado milkshakes, mint tea, Louisa tea (caffeine free) and water. It is always possible to buy a snack at the coffee shop, be it madeline sponge cakes, or a filled roll, just ask your waiter. Or a local will come by selling freshly roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. And it is tolerated to bring your own fresh fruit, or harsha or mlawi at the coffee shop. There is one coffee shop that sells mlawi, harsha and riab (local yoghurt) as well as great coffee to enjoy all your snacks in one place.