Dried Moroccan fruits and dates in particular are not only key staples in Moroccan cuisine, they have a rich cultural and historical significance that goes back many thousands of years.
As early as 6,000 BC there is evidence to suggest that the date palm was cultivated and harvested in North Africa and the Middle East not only for its sweet and delicious fruit. As well as the nutritional benefits of the date palm, rope, lumber and other household items could be crafted from this important staple.
Within a religious context, the date palm carries significance in the holy Qur’aan and is particularly important in the religious month of Ramadan in the Muslim world. In this month of fasting, dates are often the first food to be eaten as the evenings fast is broken.
In the ancient square of Jemaa al-Fnaa you will discover an outstanding array of dates and dried fruits. As you explore the labyrinths which are the souk districts, there can be no better to keep yourself energised than by snacking on this sacred delicacy.
On my walk from the Riad Dar Habiba to the red city’s central square I pass this date salesmen almost every day. I buy a small bag of dates a few times a week for only a few Dirham’s and it provides a great opportunity for me to practice my Darija Arabic!
During your stay in Morocco, sampling some of these delicious fruits for yourself is something you cannot afford to miss!
During your visit to the red city of Marrakech, one thing you cannot afford to miss are the olive sellers of the central square. You will find them lined up in the Northern reaches of Jemaa al-Fnaa as the square and the famous Souk district connect with one another.
It’s important to note that Morocco is a country of regional delicacies. Between Essaouria and Agadir, Argan trees paint the landscape in a luscious green. This is where the nutty and intensely flavoured Argan oil originates from. The same notion applies to dried fruits and dates, these sacred Moroccan staples are at their most delicious when grown in the deep Saharan South, from the regions of Goulmima to Zagora and the Draa Valley.
Therefore, whereas you might have to travel a little way to sample the freshest portions of oils and dates, some of the finest Moroccan olives are at your doorstep. Hand-picked from the groves of the Atlas region, the olives that grow around Marrakech all four seasons and, as many Marrakshi locals would tell you, the olives that find their way to the market stalls of the red city are of some of the highest calibre in the country.
Olives are picked at various stages of ripening to determine their colour and subsequent flavour and texture. After this is complete the olives can be marinaded using a host of Moroccan herbs to create an array of different flavours. For around 5 Dirham’s (£0.39) you can purchase an entire bag of olives, so why not sample all the different olives on offer?
The central square of Jemaa al-Fnaa is but a 10 minute stroll from the Riad Papillon in the heart of the Marrakech Medina.