Monsieur Yummy Vegetarian

On a much smaller scale the Medina of Fes reminds me of NYC. It’s all one big maze to an out-of-towner, but upon reflection it really is a community of neighborhoods. Depending on where you live or own a shop, you become loyal to certain markets, restaurants, or hawker stands. Since I am familiar with no neighborhood in particular (I’m lucky to just make it back to my riad at the end of the day) I feel no need to commit myself and plan on trying as many different eating joints as my stomach allows. That is until I meet him…Monsieur Yummy Vegetarian (“YV”):

He catches me as I am speedwalking past his stand; I have to walk fast so that the shopkeepers don’t catch my eye as they’re beckoning me inside their stores. He doesn’t call out to me like the other shopkeepers, and yet he manages to get me to back up into his tiny stand. Simply because he’s handing out sample potato fritters, and because his funny sign is very effective with his target market.

So before I can finish saying salaam aleikum I am already squeezing myself inside his stand behind a few guys to order a sandwich with “the works.”

As he’s cooking over a sizzling grill, his son is cutting up the bread for other customers. Some just want the fritters or fried anchovies, and those items get measured by weight then wrapped in paper.

The smells from the legumes, eggs and spices are heavenly. I’m not the only person drooling here as he pours some tomato based, minty sauce over the sandwich before handing it to me. He points me over to sit at the corner table and that’s where I take my first bite:

As my taste buds have a party with the aubergines, mints, potato fritters, eggs, and delicious bread, I try to identify all the spices–cumin, white pepper, perhaps saffron or tumeric–while watching YV and Son work quickly, serving one happy customer after another…

He asks if I’d like another one but I don’t think I can; the first sandwich was already the size of my head. After this stop, I happen along many other stands throughout my days in Fes and dabble here or there,

but–and I’m not ashamed to say this–I make it back to YV 3 or 4 times. On my final visit, it is rather late and he’s about to close up shop. He’s cleaning the grill and his son is washing the pots and pans on the floor. He points at his watch to signal to me that I’ve come too late. But maybe it’s the disappointment on my face that he sees because as I say goodbye to him, he waves me back. Most of the fritters and fresh vegetables are gone, but he lights up the grill again, and we’re back in business:

This is how we build loyalty!

And this is a video I took of him on one of my visits:


1 Comment

  1. jelita78

    u really made my mouth waters!!
    seriously! i was imagining eating it while reading your descriptions!!
    darnnnittt.. i want one!!

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