It is customary to offer fresh fruit at the end of a good meal in Marrakech. In our Riads we are proud to offer locally sourced seasonal fruit. The bowl pictured here is an Autumn Selection. When it comes to our fruit bowls, we don’t reject misshapen fruits, as we believe it is the flavour that counts.
Bananas were first introduced to Morocco in the early 1940s. They thrive in the low frost-free area along the Atlantic coast north of Agadir. The most prolific variety is Dwarf Cavendish: these small sweet fruits are now a staple available all year round. Don’t be put off by their modest exterior, they have an exquisite flavour, which can bring back childhood memories of how bananas used to taste.
Apples, pears and plums are grown about an hour from Marrakech in the fertile town of Asni in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The microclimate there is comparable to northern Europe, where deciduous trees flourish.
Pomegranate is a highly regarded fruit, as it is mentioned three times in the Quran. Our local suppliers are just outside of Marrakech in a small town called Chichaoua on the route to Essaouira where the season runs from late October until March. Eating them fresh can be a fun and messy business: first break the whole fruit open by hand or cut in half with a knife, then taste to determine the sweetness. Top with a splash of orange blossom or rose water to further enhance the flavour, or squeeze some lemon juice on top if it is too sweet. Scoop out the flesh and seeds with a spoon.
Peaches and nectarines from the High Atlas mountains are divine when perfectly ripe and juicy. The season begins earlier in Morocco than in Europe and it’s not surprising that huge volumes are sent overseas in the early summer.
Cactus fruit (or prickly pears) are in season from July until September. Cactus fruit grows throughout Morocco where cactus hedges are common in rural areas. They should be opened cautiously with a sharp knife as the spines are fine and spiky. The inner fruit explodes with delightful flavours and is super healthy, packed with antioxidants and widely believed by locals to be good for an upset stomach.
Morocco has 300 days of sunshine and oranges are available throughout the year. It’s during the winter months that their smaller cousins appear in the Marrakech Riad fruit bowl. Mandarins––squat in shape with lots of seeds––originated in the far-east. Tangerines are a mandarin hybrid which originated in the Northern Moroccan city of Tangier; they taste sweeter and stronger than an orange. Both are easy to peel and delicious.
Purple and green grapes come to us from Doukkala which is on the route to Essaouira. Raspberries and strawberries come from a region called L’Araish in the north.
Succulent watermelon is available throughout the summer. It helps quench thirst and keep people hydrated during the hottest months of the year. They are grown all over the country, but the watermelon from the dessert region of Zagora is undoubtedly the best with a national—and increasingly international—reputation.