There are 18 souk’s which employ over 40,000 locals of all backgrounds, ages and ethnicity in Marrakech alone. Although that makes for an almost uncountable number of wares to explore and choose from, no adventure in the Marrakshi souk’s is complete without a trip to the poultry market in Marché de Volaille, just a ten minute walk away from Riad’s Cinnamon and Papillon.
As you enter the poultry market the first thing that will demand your attention is that most of the wares on offer are indeed still very much alive. Scorching temperatures in the ancient city mean that the only way to trade in live goods is of course by keeping the produce this way up until the very point of sale. Not only does this entrench the poultry markets with a sense of realism that is somewhat lost to us in the commercial supermarkets of Europe, it also guarantee’s the buyer fresh, unadulterated and delicious produce.
Upon my first entry to the market the squawking of chickens, the constant flow of Arabic and the rich smells of spices and olives gave me a momentary overload of my senses. However once I re-composed myself and pressed on through the souk the defining feature that I took away from the market wasn’t the fruit and chicken that me and my colleague Mostafa had come to buy but instead was the overwhelming hospitality of the salesmen.
As Mostafa haggled prices the owner insisted I come behind the stall, offering me a chair, a fresh orange and a knife as I sat with the salesmen’s son. Although the young man didn’t speak English or French, I discovered his name was Abdullah and he was delighted when I asked if I could take his photo.
As we shared an orange our conversation was reserved mostly to hand gestures and smiles but was proud to tell me he was an avid supporter of Barcelona football club. When I pointed towards myself and said ‘Everton FC?’ Abdullah shook his head, laughing and let out a sigh.
It goes without saying that that some language barriers were made to be broken and that they should never put you exploring Marrakech!