My Present Drug Of Choice

So on my way out to the souks to scour for local goods I pass by a ton of small storefronts selling everything from silk tassels

to blankets

to shoes

to dried fruits

to staple foods

to fresh produce…

Everywhere in the Medina you will see stray cats. Dogs are few and far in between but cats run rampant…

As usual I’m mentally scoping out the stores while feigning indifference so that I can save the actual buying for the last day. Plus it is very difficult to say no in the Moroccan souks once you’ve made eye contact and started chatting with the sellers a bit. If you really want to engage in hours of bartering, accept their offers of the super sweet mint tea, which by the way has me addicted like a sugar fiend. From these basic ingredients of tea,

sugar cubes, and fresh mint,

a glass of hot Moroccan tea can materialize in matters of seconds at any time, any place, in Fes for as little as 7 dirhams (as of today there are almost 8 dirhams to one US dollar). When the winter chill blows through Fes on the second day of my visit, locals and tourists alike flock to the bars and restaurants for a hit of this tea. It’s probably the sugar high that brings us back for more, but as I sit at a random table in the middle of a square during rush hour, I find that friends and families gather around the tea to simply catch up on each other’s day. But like I said, going somewhere for tea is a different social tool than taking up on a seller’s offer of his tea. Either way, this is my present drug of choice…

Speaking of sugar highs, you can’t come to this part of the world without having a few bites of the local pastries. In this case, the sweets (Briouat, Chebakia, Fekas) are various types of pastries using the general ingredients of honey, almonds, and sesame in different shapes. Some may have peanuts or figs or other goodies inside,

and they are made with various grades of sweetness. My favorite one is this crescent shaped, lightly sweetened cookie filled with almond paste–I’d gotten it as a dessert at a restaurant my first night here then I later see it everywhere on the streets,

sometimes peddled by young children for as little as 2 dirhams a piece. How can I say no when I see little kids working like this…

Anyhow, the Asian in me thinks I’d rather enjoy these sweet pastries with unsweetened hot tea though. But when in Morocco, I have another jolt of the Moroccan whiskey (PS: that’s me trying to warm up under a GAP sherpa hoodie and raw silk scarf. I wish the weather had been warm enough for me to wear the Missoni caftan though):

For you carnivores out there, I’ve got a very interesting blog entry waiting for you after tomorrow’s post. Be forewarned though…bring a strong stomach when you come back!


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