Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Night Market at Djemaa el-Fna

I just stumbled upon the above photo while tidying my photo albums. The while coats, bright lights and mountain of food took me right back to Marrakech's main square, Djemaa el-Fna, and the nightly food market that emerges in the crazy centre of the city.

About a hundred stalls line the square in white canvass marquees, each stocked with kebabs, fish, sausages, tasty vegetables and many things I couldn't even recognise but looked delicious anyway. Dishes are cooked for you fresh and this is evident by the clouds of smoke and incredible smells being produced left, right and centre. Diners sit on communal tables in long rows, very intimately as seating space at each stall is limited. A memorable dining experience is almost guaranteed.

Walking through this market was one of the most insane experiences I had while in Morocco and part of the reason why I barely remember even taking this picture. Touters vying for your attention and business are eager, persistent, unrelenting and even pushy, making Shanghai's Xiang Yang market look like a walk in the park. At one stage, I had a group of four or five men from different stalls form a circle around me all pressing laminated, grease-covered menus into my face and attempting to pull me to the direction of their stall. It took some very high-pitched squealing to be released from this, only to have it happen to me again ten metres down the square with about four or five different men. This is a typical experience for many tourists in Marrakech.

The rest of the market stays open until about 9.30pm, making it a perfect place to have a post-dinner stroll. The shop owners are generally less in your face as they're winding down, giving you the opportunity to browse the leather, shoes, scarves, ceramics and lanterns at your leisure. You may also like to pick up a couple of sugar-coated sweets there for dessert as I'd done.

Djemaa el-Fna is truly unlike any other place in the world.

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