Marrakech Street Food: Eating Out in the Djemaa El Fna

Marrakech is a place which feels really exotic. Sure it's only three short hours from London by plane, but it feels a world away. No more so is this the case than on the Djemaa el Fna, the plaza that dominates the centre of town and marks the edge of the medina and the start of the novelle ville or new town. The Djemaa el Fna feels like a place that hasn't changed in centuries. It's full of snake charmers, men with tame monkeys, henna artists, and pickpockets by day. By night, the place transforms and story tellers, acrobats, fire eaters and all manner of other street entertainers come out.

The square also fills up with carts selling food and drink. All manner of products are available here: fresh juice, fresh and dried fruit, sweets and lots and lots of barbecues. Amongst the chicken wings, sausages and so on, it's also possible to get some more outlandish fare as well - entire sheep's heads, for example. Whether or not you come to eat, the plaza is an experience that's unlike anywhere else we've visited. 

From the moment you venture into the square, hawkers start hassling and men from the stalls leap out to entice you to choose their food over many others. As we wandered around, one man got our attention over the others. Jokey, friendly and just on the right side of aggressive hassler, after a walk around the square a few times we gave in and decided to try what he had on offer.

The food was simple: olives and a thick, starchy bread to start. A then moved on to a meat and potato dish (we didn't ask what meat - we figured it was better not to know). It was simple, but fairly tasty: essentially a stew.

C had a starchy kind of pie, filled with sweet fruit and meat inside. It was basically a suet pudding and, in all honesty, not something she'd go for again - although to focus on its pros, it's certainly filling, being one of the stodgiest things she'd ever eaten. Coupled with some grilled aubergines, though, this made for a pleasant enough meal.

Honestly, we're not sure we'd eat in the Djemaa El Fna again. But we're definitely glad we tried it, and if you're ever in Marrakech, you should to. It's quite an experience - and isn't that what travelling the world is all about?!


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