Nancy Mills looked forward to admiring the art deco architecture of Casablanca, exploring medieval Fes and watching the sun set over the Sahara, but it was what she didn’t expect that turned out to be to her liking in Morocco …
“I looked forward to riding a camel on my Intrepid trip to Morocco. I never imagined I would be eating camel, much less enjoying it!
Wandering the Meknes souq’s labrynth had certainly made us hungry. The wonderful aroma of frying meat and onions promised relief. But this was not to be a ‘Big Mac’ moment.
First we had to buy our meat and so we followed our guide’s directions to the butcher shop – buried deep in the interior of the souq. The giant camel’s head overlooking the stall confirmed that this was not to be an ordinary carnivorous experience.
Through a combination of hand gestures and very pidgin Arabic, we managed to convey that we wanted enough for two hungry tourists. Into the meat grinder went some chunks of raw, very lean meat and a slab of fat (the butcher’s gestures indicated that it came from the hump) and out came something that looked exactly – and somewhat disconcertingly – like the ground beef I buy for burgers at home. But then another conversation of gestures and grunts, and into the bowl went herbs and spices we couldn’t begin to identify. Then we paid the ridiculously low price and were handed a white bag of spiced, ground meat and ‘told’ (pointed) to go around the corner and down another of the alleys in the market’s maze.
There, following our noses, we found the grill cook who managed to figure out that we wanted sandwiches, not the sausage and eggs that many of the other customers – white bags in hand – appeared to be ordering. When it became our turn, our ground meat was shaped into patties, grilled to perfection, plopped into wonderfully fresh bread, topped with a shake of more spices and handed to us with a simultaneously confident and hopeful expression after we paid out a few more coins.
The cook’s confidence was well earned. Once we made our way to the tables in yet another stall where we could order drinks and sit down to enjoy our repast, we both took courage-boosting deep breaths and delved in. The camel-burgers were delicious! So much so, that if we’re ever again in Meknes, we’ll not only follow our noses to the camel butcher – but this time we’ll find out the seasoning secrets as well!
Camel riding was an adventure for sure, but camel eating was an unanticipated adventure and all the more memorable as a result!”
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