First trip outside the Medina, the walled city, to the modern area...A special treat for Tom on our anniversary...

Thanks to all of the warm anniversary wishes we received yesterday as we celebrated 19 years of marriage (together 23 years)
Also, for our readers in the US, with changing clocks overnight tonight for Daylight Savings Time (where applicable), we will be seven hour later than the West Coast, five hours later than the Midwest, and four hours later for the East Coast.  As an example, those of you in the Midwest will see our newest post, no later than 8:30 am your time. 

Yesterday, Friday, many of the Souks were closed due to Friday as the Holy Day.  It was odd walking through the area when it was quiet.
Yesterday afternoon, we decided it was time to leave the walled city to find a supermarket for purchasing cheese and nuts. There are many snack type vendors in the Medina and Souk, but, all that we'd purchased thus far were unsalted nuts.

The "petit taxis" are smaller than what is shown here.  But, all taxis, large and small appear 
to be this same beige color, making them easy to spot.
With my limited food options due to my way of eating, nuts with salt are a treat for both of us.  Everywhere we've traveled we've been able to find nuts that are salted without the use of wheat as a stabilizer. 
To the right, is a petit taxi as we maneuvered through the traffic neat the entrance to the Medina.
Cheese is not a commonly utilized food item in Morocco none of which we found in the Souk.  Thus, a trip to a grocery store was inevitable.  For us, the simple trip proved to be another learning experience.
Non Muslims are not allowed to tour the many mosques in Morocco.
With no taxis allowed in the Medina, and the long walk from Dar Aicha to the street outside the walled city, we realized we couldn't purchase more than we could easily carry back.
This is one of many newer condo complexes with units available for sale that we noticed on the way to the grocery store. The streets in Marrakesh are meticulous, free of trash or litter. It's obvious the Moroccan people take great pride in their surroundings.
Samir, our kind and dignified houseman had explained that there are "petit taxis" (small taxis) on the street outside the Medina with drivers prepared to negotiate a round trip and who are willing to wait while we shop.
As a business hub, there are many fine hotels in Marrakesh for both business and pleasure travelers with the convenience of the nearby airport.
Moments after stepping off the curb, we were approached by Simone, a French speaking driver with whom we were able to communicate with my limited French.  He agreed to take us to the "supermarket," 15 minutes away and back for a negotiated price of MAD $80, US $9.63 and was to wait 30 minutes or more while we shopped.  We paid him MAD $100, US $12.04 including a well deserved tip. 
At the entrance to the Marjane Mall where the Hypermarket is located on a lower level with elevators for wheeling carts to one's vehicle.

This could have been any mall, anywhere in the world, newer, convenient and with many stores, some of which were "chain" stores that we've seen in other African countries. We didn't see any US chain stores.

Only a small number of the mall's stores were open due to the Holy Day.
As we drove further and further away from the Medina, the city changed dramatically from old to new with modern buildings, hotels, newly built condo communities.  It could have been anywhere in the US except for the interesting architecture of the structures, following the pleasing Moroccan theme. 
No pork or pork products (bacon, sausage, chops) are available in Morocco.  Muslim people do not eat pork. Beef, chicken and fish comprise most meals.  Many of the body parts of cows and chickens are savored.

These are steaks with all of the fat removed.  In South Africa, fat is considered a delicacy and
is left on the meat.  Apparently, that is not the case in Morocco when all of the beef appeared to be very lean and free of visible fat.
With the temperature at 85F, 29C, I was warm in my bundled up attire that I've worn in an attempt to keep me warm in the riad which stays very cool day and night.  Tom had worn short sleeves instead of layers and was comfortable as we walked, while I was sweating in my heavy layers. 

Driving through this modern area reminded me in many ways of Scottsdale, Arizona where we lived for two months as we prepared to leave the US.
Off putting to some, I was intrigued by all the parts of the fresh fish which are utilized in cooking in Morocco.
Simone dropped us off at the new shopping mall where upon entering the modern facility, we found our way to the Marjane Hypermarket on a lower level.  Upon entering the giant facility, it reminded me of any Target Superstore in Minnesota where both grocery, clothing, electronics and household items can be purchased under one roof.
It was hard for me to take my eyes off the fresh fish, a favorite.

Various sundries are also sold in the Hypermarket.
Having been an avid Target shopper in my old life,  a wave of excitement washed over me, quickly dispelled by the reality that we are only able to purchase that which we will consume before we leave Morocco in a little over two months. 

After exiting the mall we didn't see Simone, thinking he may have had to park in another area
when we didn't see any taxis on the street.  After waiting for five minutes, Simone appeared on foot and walked us to his vehicle further down the road.
With cheese spoiling quickly with less preservatives used in Africa, we only purchased enough cheese that would keep for the few weeks until we venture out for groceries again.  Of course, we're able to keep the cheese in the refrigerator, as we do our iced tea, along with ice made in trays.

It wasn't long before we approached the Medina for our long walk back carrying heavy the groceries.  I suggested to Tom that we take a horse and buggy or a tuk tuk, but, he insisted he was doing fine carrying the bulk of the load. 
I must admit I felt like a kid in a candy store.  Had we been cooking here, we'd have been able to find most of our usual ingredients.  As for prices, as I clicked away on my smart phone for the currency conversion app, they were higher than South Africa, comparable to Kenya.  Produce was cheap, meat was reasonable (both locally grown) and packaged goods were high (mostly imported).
Here is everything we purchased in the Hypermarket.  Although I'm not a big fan of Lipton tea, I am very picky about flavors of tea and chose what I knew I'd drink and use for iced tea if necessary.  I miss my old favorite, Pouchong but, am unable to find it anywhere outside the US. The coffee we purchased was the same brand that we'd used when we lived in Tuscany last summer. The receipt and conversion for our entire purchase is listed below. 
This chunk of Gouda was US $11.11, MAD $92.30.  It was .63 kg, 1.38 pounds, which we agreed was a reasonable price.  The name on the label, Carrefour, was the same store name where we'd made purchases in Dubai, UAE, last May.
All the fresh foods were beautifully displayed and carefully handled.  The cheese display was extensive with as many options as we'd found when we lived in Italy this past summer.  The packaged nuts were a little pricey, mostly locally grown. We were thrilled to find salted nuts.
The total grocery bill for cheese, tea, water and nuts converts  to US $149.71.  It's unlikely we'll need to shop again for several weeks.
The big mistake we made was in purchasing two five liter bottles of water, hoping to make Samir's task of going out to buy water for us easier for a few days.  Carrying the big jugs of water along with the other items, certainly made the return walk cumbersome.  We've learned our lesson. Samir has kindly offered to get all of the bottled water for us for which we'll reimburse him.
Last night's delicious anniversary dinner made by Madame Zahra included: clockwise from the bread, to the pepper salad (not hot peppers), marinated beet salad, egg battered Aubergine (my favorite) and a cabbage and olive salad.  The item below the beets was Tom's favorite, battered and fried cauliflower (containing flour so I didn't try it) up until the item shown below was served. 
It never occurred to us that the walk through the Souk yesterday would be less crowded.  With Fridays, as the Muslim Holy Day, many of the vendors had closed their shops, allowing us to quickly move through the Medina and the Souk on the return.  We've decided that in the future, grocery shopping will take place on Fridays.
French fries for Tom, called "chips" in Africa remain as one of Tom's favorite.  Although he didn't have Heinz ketchup for dipping, he thoroughly enjoyed these.
Once back at Dar Aicha, and finding spots for the snacks, we settled in, as our anniversary dinner was being prepared. The smells wafting from the kitchen had us both famished. 
Last night's dinner was our favorite thus far with Madame Zahra making "chips" (French fries) for Tom and sautéed egg battered Aubergine (eggplant) for me, a special treat.
When Adil asked us for an entrée preference, we suggested this grilled chicken, made by Madame Zahra on the rooftop.  Once again, it was wonderful.
Today, we'll heading out again to further explore the Medina and to find a new restaurant for dinner.  We're committed to trying new restaurants each of the three to four times we dine out each week.  Later, when satisfied we've tried most of them, we'll do repeats of our favorites. Already, the first two restaurants we've tried is on the "favorites" list.
As I wandered upstairs to change into my pajamas I only needed too look up to see a crescent moon through the open air roof of our riad.  We can hardly wait to see the full moon as it  soon will cast a shadow inside the house.

The nearly invisible wire covering the roof opening is to prevent branches and animals from falling into the house.  So, we suppose.
Yes, we're settling in after arriving one week ago today.  For us, part of the process revolves around becoming familiar, as most of us do, in developing somewhat of a routine.  As we'd observed in nature over the past three months in South Africa, animals, like humans, find extraordinary comfort in familiar routines.
We dine, trying new places and foods.  We explore, to learn about the area and the culture.  We interact with locals, as often as possible.  And, we document our experiences in photos and stories which... we joyfully share with our readers each and every day. 


Louise said...

Whow Jess, it looks like you guys are having an awesome time. The food looks delicious! I would love to have a bite of those aubergine. One of my favourite veggies. Danie made us Mousaka last night. I believe you know what that is. It was lekker! We miss you guys a lot! Have fun and take care. Love xxxx

Jessica said...

Our darling Louise,
We are having a great time, loving the time we are out everyday and also the time we spend in the lovely riad. You both would love it here! I had asked Madame Zahra to make the aubergine again tonight. We eat in 10 minutes and can hardly wait for another fabulous meal. Her cooking is so amazing that we drool smelling it cook during the day.

How sweet of Danie to make Moussaka for you. Yes, I am familiar with this wonderful Greek dish. Perhaps someday we'll go to Greece for a time. I love their food as well.

Off we go now to the dining room table, always nicely set for us with candlelight. So romantic!
We love and miss you both very much!
Jess & Tom

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