Speaking of leather, another must-see is the tannery.The tannery in the medina is the oldest leather tannery in the world, and features leather-making techniques unchanged since the Middle Ages. It is composed of numerous stone vessels filled with a range of dyes and liquids. From above, the vats and colors look exactly like a painter’s pallet. Workers use a mixture of ingredients, including bird droppings, to help the leather take the dye more effectively. It’s a really amazing scene to see, but you’ll probably be a tad distracted by the strong smell of animal hide baking in the sun.
You should definitely try to visit early in the morning before the sun hits the tannery and the smell starts rising. If you’re not so lucky, have no fear, because you’ll most likely be offered a sprig of mint leaves. But, as tempting as they may look, they’re not for munching!
On my first visit, I thought the mint was a snack. Although it seemed slightly odd, I still happily munched away on my sprig until I realized I was the only one eating it! So, save yourself the embarrassment, and use the leaves to take your mind, and your nose, off the smell.
Either way, the stench is definitely worth braving as the view over the balcony allows you to witness a practice that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. It is all achieved manually, without the use of modern machinery—just some good ol’ elbow grease and foot stomping, to help you get the picture.
After your tour, you can lose yourself in the tannery store, where you’ll find a gorgeous array of goods including shoes, belts, jackets, bags, and other trinkets.
Don’t forget to put your poker face on and put those newly acquired bargaining skills to good use!
After spending a day in the medina, you’re definitely going to need a restful place to lay your head. When in
My sister and I stumbled upon Riad El Yacout after it was recommended to us
by a Moroccan train passenger.
Although someone from the riad met us at the train station, I have to admit that upon arrival, we were a bit wary of the location—it was nestled in a narrow, dusty alley on a random street on the outskirts of the medina. The street was even too small for our taxi to fit through! We were just about ready to turn on our heels and run screaming back to the train station when they opened the heavy, Moorish door and led us inside.
The best way to describe the riad is simply: paradise. There were birds chirping and flying across the hallways, and the trickle of the rose petal-laden indoor fountain was most relaxing. The noise from the hustle and bustle outside was inaudible, and it was much cooler inside the walls than out on the street. The riad even featured a roof that could be opened during the day and closed during inclement weather.
As with any hotel, each riad is different and unique. However, they commonly feature suites ranging in décor and layout, each exquisite in its own right. They are lavishly decorated with textiles embroidered in the colors of the rainbow, stained glass windows and doors, as well as intricate tile work. As an added bonus, they also come equipped with air conditioners and television sets.
While there, my sister and I were lucky enough to be the only guests present and we not only felt like royalty, but were treated that way as well. Every morning the waiter waited for us to emerge from our room, and brought us a breakfast that could feed at least four people. It included assorted sweet breads (Moroccans love sweets!), fresh orange juice, eggs made however we liked, and endless cups of coffee and tea. Dinner was another banquet—we rarely ever finished our meals.
Being the only guests also allowed us to roam the riad freely. We explored each suite and made many a visit to the rooftop. We also became friends with the workers there and knew each by name by the time we left.
Even if you’re not as lucky as we were, you’ll leave wondering why every hotel in the
5. CULI! CULI! (EAT! EAT!) – Native Dishes You Must Try
You haven’t truly experienced all a country has to offer until you’ve tried their food. Moroccan food is delicious and a treat—as long as you don’t eat from the street vendors. We’ve all been told never to drink the water in an unfamiliar country, and
That being said, Moroccan food is known for its savory flavors and many ingredients, and will definitely be a pleasant experience for your taste buds.
Although not a dish, the most popular, and my favorite, is the green tea with mint. Making good mint tea in
Other staples dishes to try include Tajine (Tagine)—the national dish, Pastilla, and Harira.
Tajine is a dish which is named after the special pot it is cooked in. The traditional tajine pot is made of heavy clay, and is composed of two parts; a base unit which is flat and circular with low sides, and a large cone or dome-shaped cover that rests inside the base during cooking. The dish itself is a stew slow-cooked at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce.
Pastilla is a pie dish which unexpectedly, but deliciously combines sweet and salty flavors; a combination of crisp layers of a thinner form of the phyllo dough, savory chicken cooked in broth and spices, and a crunchy layer of toasted and ground almonds, cinnamon, and powdered sugar.
Harira is the traditional soup that is usually eaten during dinner in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to break the fasting day, and is considered a meal in itself. It can also be served to relatives and friends after a special celebration, such as the morning after a wedding night. Luckily for you, you won't have to wait until Ramadan to taste Harira. Just visit any Moroccan restaurant to get your fix.
Would I Lie To You?
If you love exploring new lands and meeting warm, friendly people on your travels, then