Saturday, 26 January 2013

Christmas in Casablanca Part 3



A visit to the Ancienne Medina  (old market) and lunch at La Sqala.
The main entrance into the ancienne  Medina.There is a new market not far away, but not too interesting, we were told!
Walking through the narrow (and narrower!) streets.   Shops and stalls on both sides; we felt perfectly safe amongst the throng we encountered, but didn't take too many photos there, for fear of causing offence.
So much to see and take in. Stall after stall all selling the same type of goods!
Everything was on sale from meat ...
to live chicken
and fish - probably very fresh - the port is only 200 metres away!  Note the rusty old scales!
Luckily we  "acquired" a self-appointed, English speaking guide who helped us to buy a tajine from a stall deep in the rabbit warren of streets, gifted us a packet of mixed Moroccan spices from his "uncle", and also helped us find our way back out from the maze of streets. One can get completely lost in a couple of minutes (no street names), so he was worth every penny of his tip and was a mine of information, having lived there for all of his 35 years.  He went to school there, and and sometimes spent up to 18 hours a day as a child, learning about Islam and becoming a good Muslim.
We were told that on one afternoon a week, the Medina is open only to women. Men are not allowed in the streets, and if they are shop owners they have to remain within the limits of their shop!
He then took us through the Jewish quarter in the medina, which we did not realise existed -it's not on the maps! Judaism and Islam have existed here side by side for around 500 years. Our guide commented on how poor the buildings all looked from the outside, but he said that inside they were beautiful and opulent!!  The town of Casablanca is also home to North Africa’s largest Jewish population, many being middle-class or wealthy Moroccans.











 another building in the Jewish quarter
Such a choice of items on sale. These, we thought, were all for the tourist trade. Cruise ships often stop in the nearby port, so there is plenty of business!
A visit to  La Sqala restaurant, recommended by our hotel, for lunch.  An 18th century fort converted to better uses, for today's requirements. It's close enough to the medina and the port, but as you can see from the photo below, no longer overlooks the water!! The necessity for land reclamation to provide more space has no doubt caused this situation.
Nigel studying one of the old cannons.  Casablanca is the principal port of Morocco and is the centre of finance, industry, commerce, media and manufacturing.
   The tables are set in the open courtyard, with sun umbrellas,  fountains and trees.  A lovely atmosphere, with friendly waiters and Moroccan cuisine.  A good place to be in Christmas week - sunshine and 22 degrees that day!
The service counter
Moroccan bread with spiced sauces.
Nigel ordered a tajine oxtail special - none too generous helping!
and I had tajine poisson.  No matter what I ordered, I always seemed to get the biggest plateful!
Nigel finished off his meal with a mango ice and coffee
and I had a nougat ice cream.

I might add we only had breakfast and  lunch while we were in Casablanca, other than the first day, when we had a late dinner.  We did not want to tip the scales too much on our return to the Charente!




 


See also - My Life Before Charente Updated 26/01/2013

and my daily photo diary at http://photodiarydps.blogspot.fr/

76 comments:

  1. Very interesting, Diane. I enjoyed learning more about Casablanca. Have a wonderful weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joyful I actually feel guilty breaking away from France to do these posts but Casablanca was too interesting not to write about. At least it is an old French Territory! I am glad so many people appear to be enjoying reading about the place. Enjoy your weekend. Diane

      Delete
  2. Hello Diane:
    Each one of these posts we have found hugely interesting for the real insight, achieved through your words and pictures, which they give into a country and place we should so much like to visit for ourselves. You really do seem to have seen and experienced so much, and of great variety. The food, we are certain, we should really enjoy - all those wonderful dishes cooked in tajines [and now you have your own].

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jane and Lance I am very pleased that you are enjoying the posts on Casablanca. We found that we did prefer the typical muslin restaurants to the 'normal' ones. The flavours in Moroccan food were very special and we can eat 'normal' any time. I have had some fun experimenting with the tajine, and to date we have really enjoyed each meal that has come out of it. Of course I have a head start with the spice mixture that our 'guide' acquired for us. I have though now found a few sites that tell you how to make the main mix so I will be experimenting with that at a later date. Enjoy the weekend Diane

      Delete
  3. i too am so interested in this trip to casablanca. i know what those markets are like after my time in seoul. it did not take me long to know the markets there inside out. it looks like religious tolerance can exist without chaos! i would love to see the insides of those homes! thanks so much for these wonderful posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jaz I am delighted that Casablanca is so popular with my followers. We would also have liked to see the inside of those homes, I am sure they would have been beautiful. Keep well Diane

      Delete
  4. Hustling and bustling!
    And... all centered on food! LOL!
    You reportage is very lively, quite an incentive to get us taking a holiday there!
    Brilliant!
    Keep well, Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Noushka with N not being able to walk too far in comfort, stopping to eat a meal, an ice cream or just to have a cup of coffee was what kept him going :-) If you should ever decide to go there, I would suggest splitting the holiday up between Casablanca, Fes and Marrakesh. We had too long in one place really. The holiday was booked at the last minute and we did not think ahead! Have a good weekend Diane

      Delete
  5. So interesting, Diane. Quite fortunate of you to find your "guide" in that crowd. He took you to the right places and you were safe. Would love to see the tagine you bought. Have you used it it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan the 'guide' worked in one of the stalls/shop with his father. We did actually stop to ask the way out, and we were lucky to have asked someone who was fluent in French, English and Arabic. He then asked what we had seen and took over the rest of the viewing. He was very pleasant and friendly with out over doing it. Yes we were lucky. Safety though was never an issue, we felt quite safe walking around and it was obvious we were tourists. Many people just simply said enjoy Casablanca while we walked around the town. Yes I have used the tajine and we have had some great meals from it. It is nothing spectacular, I only bought a plain one as it was intended to be a working implement. Enjoy your weekend Diane

      Delete
  6. Interesting.

    Did you look for the guide or did he find you and assign himself in the hope of a tip as payment?

    I've never been, but Casablanca looks like a facinating place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gaynor, if you read my reply to Susan above you have your answer re the guide. He did not ask for a tip, but he spent a couple of hours with us so we certainly gave him one. Enjoy Sunday Diane

      Delete
  7. the food looks perfect and I just love the way it is served in this simple nice plates!
    I could spend a whole day on the medina:)
    Blog about life and travelling
    Blog about cooking

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ola the plates are the bottom part of the tajine which the food is cooked in. It arrives at the table very hot, direct from the oven. Keep well Diane

      Delete
  8. what nice and fun pictures Diane, you make me travel by Casablanca and I loved, love the dessert look like made in home like I made LOL aah and the coffe smell delicious and love your Nougat ice Cream:) I enjoyed this post Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gloria I think I must try and make nougat ice cream, it was quite delicious :-)) Glad you enjoyed the post. Take care Diane

      Delete
  9. Thanks for the tour through the market place, most interesting. I had no idea that Jews and Muslims have lived together for all these years. Maybe the portion was smallish (doesn't look that way from the picture) but the oxtail tagine sure looks good. Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michel the oxtail portion was small in comparison with my meal, think Nigel thought he had been hard done by :-) It was though he said very yummy. You have a great weekend as well. Diane

      Delete
  10. That was fascinating and I loved the photographs, though appreciating your wish not to be intrusive.
    Your remark about shops all selling the same thing grouped together rung very true for me after visiting markets in Tunisia and Egypt....does it make you think of the medieval shops in London where each trade had its own area?
    It's still a bit like that here in San Jose. Shoemakers cluster together...tailors likewise...hand tool suppliers...

    How nice of people to hope you enjoyed Casablanca...sounds like a lovely atmosphere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fly I think it is a world wide thing. We have noticed in a number of places. A whole street of furniture shops, then a street full of jewellers etc. I suppose it is a good way for buyers to make a comparison, but as a seller I would prefer to be the only shop like it in the area!

      Before going we read several articles, many warnings of being careful in the streets, but from our own point of view we were no more careful than we would have been on any big city and the people there we found to be very friendly. We did not feel under threat anywhere.

      Have a good Sunday, Diane

      Delete
  11. What a fascinating place. Nice to have a guide to keep you from getting lost in the throngs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gaelyn getting lost in the Medina would have been very easy. So many small and twisting streets and we could have been there for ever if we had not found the guide :-)) Diane

      Delete
  12. Hi Diane .. the photos are lovely and really tempt me to visit sometime - I love oxtail, while your fish tagine looks quite delicious ... as does the nougat icecream ...

    Interesting to see inside the Medina .. and to read about what happens in Casablanca ..

    And that place for lunch looks stunning and obviously serves really good meals .. so pleased you had such a lovely time ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hilary if you love oxtail then try ostrich neck cooked the same way. It is fantastic and minus the fat.

      The Medina was an amazing place but a complete maze. I wonder if there was ever a map for it, but seeing there were no street names up what good would a map of been! Keep well Diane

      Delete
  13. I really enjoyed your last two posts. The food certainly increased my appetite! I’m sure it was nice to be under the sun during Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vagabonde, I am still trying to get my weight back to normal, the food was just too good there. As for the sun we really appreciated it especially as it is so dismal here at the moment. Keep well Diane

      Delete
  14. Hi Diane , I am pleased that you used a guide to get you out and about in those streets ,, I doubt if you would find your way out ... I am also happy that you felt safe , that is important and that is one reason I think puts me off going there ...

    I love the look of the restaurant you went too , the court yard is amazing and just right to have lunch in the shade, .. all looks fab , take care Anne xox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne I have never been in a place which is quite such a maze, we certainly asked the right person how to find the exit as he showed us all we had missed and then still the exit at the end of the tour :-) We never felt threatened once the whole time we were there, in fact everyone was very friendly.

      It was one of the nicest restaurants we went to,anywhere where we see locals eating generally we think they are the best. Keep warm and well Diane oxo

      Delete
  15. oh
    like the photos!
    kisses!



    Angela Donava

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Angela thanks for the visit and the comment. Much appreciated. Take care and have a good day. Diane

      Delete
  16. What a fascinating glimpse you've given us, wonderful photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Café Sucré Farine thanks, it was a lovely place to visit and I am so glad everyone is enjoying the photos. Take care Diane

      Delete
  17. Yum I could eat that Nougat ice cream right now. Thanks for the tour of the markets, they sure look interesting but I doubt I would eat meat from that butcher. You were lucky to have a helpful local to take you around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. diane b, I really have to find a recipe for nougat ice cream it was very special. The market was wonderful, but I doubt if I would eat the meat or fish from there knowingly :-) Keep well Diane

      Delete
  18. Howdy Diane! What a cool place to visit. Yeah, have to agree with you about the food. Btw, I never like oxtail or any other tails. haha.... Honestly, I don't seem fond of red meat. Though the food looks really delish and the dessert sounds yummy too. Bet you had a great time there.
    Hope you're enjoying your day. ((hugs))
    Blessings, Kristy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristy, it was a great place to spend Christmas in the sun and yes we did have a good time there. The food was just the best :-) Have a good week Diane

      Delete
  19. I have enjoyed your series on Casablanca. It certainly is a city of contrasts as you have shown in your photos. It sounds like you were lucky to have found such a lovely person to guide you through the maze and give you interesting facts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. backroadjournal I am pleased that everyone has enjoyed the posts on Casablanca. As for the guide we were more than lucky to 'bump' in to him just at the time we got lost. He was a mine of information having lived there all his life. Take care Deiane

      Delete
  20. Such fantastic sights on your Christmas trip to Casablanca, and the food looked wonderful. If I ever take a trip, I will surely hire a guide to get all of the local information of where I have visited. Have a wonderful week and thank you for the tour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Horst certainly if you go to the Medina a guide is a good idea, it is very easy to get completely lost in there. Keep well Diane

      Delete
  21. What a lovely old town Diane. It was quite strange to see the almost new building at the end. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joan it is good to hear from you again. An interesting part of Africa that I have not been to previously. Keep well Diane

      Delete
  22. Oh I have so enjoyed your trip through these posts and Morocco is high on our list of places to visit once D is fully recovered, although it is a long road ahead before we will be travelling again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda so long as D is on the road to recovery you have something to look forward to. Glad that you have enjoyed our visit. Our only regret was we should have split the time up between Fes, Casablanca and Marakesh, we had too long in one spot but for all that we enjoyed it. Take care both of you and I hope D gets better very quickly. Diane

      Delete
  23. hi diane, how are you? i enjoy looking at the photos and interesting to know about a day a week for women. That portion of tagine indeed look big to me, have a nice week, cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lena ha ha I told N what you said and he said it was a small plate :-)) Interesting city I have to say. Take care and thanks for the visit. Diane

      Delete
  24. Oh, these pictures are just gorgeous! Casablanca always reminds me of the movie, I can't believe that it's actually a real place! The food looks delicious, I love tajini...the meat one though, since I don't like fish. Thank you for the virtual tour! I'm afraid of flying so I don't travel...unless I can get there by car or bus...so I love to look at pictures of other people's travels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Francesca I would hate it if I could not fly anywhere, so many interesting bits of the world that you cannot get to overland. The Casablanca cafe has photos of the movie around, but it is certainly not quite the romantic era of Bogart and Bergman. Strangely enough the whole film was shot in the studio other than a couple of short bits which also never reached Casablanca!! One can dream. Take care Diane

      Delete
  25. Lovely post. I was in Morrocco a few years ago, and these posts have taken me back to some good memories.

    Red

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boye By Red, it is good that we are bringing back good memories for you. Keep well Diane

      Delete
  26. Lovely photos those, and I'm glad you both had a good time. Casablanca has an almost mythical reputation as a beguiling city, and that was recognised in popular culture as far back as the late 50's and Hollywood films, and that's how I like to think of it. And your photos almost tempt me to believe that the city still holds magic, although I'm not sure just how true that may be..

    Thanks for posting this Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fripouille mostly the magic has gone, but walk into the Casablanca Cafe for a meal and the magic returns. See my next and final post on Casablanca. It is very orientated around the film and Hollywood stars and yes you can feel a certain magic in there. To add to it the owner makes sure you are comfy, well served, and the food was inexpensive and good.
      Keep well Diane

      Delete
  27. So much fun! Nigel's mango ice looks amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pam, personally I thought the nougat ice cream was delicious..... Take care Diane

      Delete
  28. Would have loved to wandered through those markets with you and Nigel as well, Diane. You have given a good description of Casablanca, and it is lovely to see it through your eyes. I shall not ever go there, but it is nice to have a look at it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vera I hope you have enjoyed the trip through our eyes, one last post to go before I return to the Charente. Keep well and take care Diane

      Delete
  29. Love these photos!
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Regine. Hope that you have a good day. Take care Diane

      Delete
  30. A very exciting place to spend Christmas. At least you got away from the tinsel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Friko you are so right, not much tinsel in Casablanca but we did enjoy the change :-) Keep well Diane

      Delete
  31. love local markets like this and the food looks so good, fun trip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rebecca I also love these sort of markets, I could have spent hours there but the maze was a problem trying to find your way around. Only the people who live there would ever know where they have been! Take care Diane

      Delete
  32. DEAR DIANE I AM SO HAPPY TO SEE WHAT A WONDERFUL TRIP YOU HAD. I HAVE BEEN AWAY FOR SOME TIME, BUT HAPPILY RETURNING TO BLOGGING. I REALLY ENJOYED YOUR PICTURES AND STORIES, WHAT A MAGICAL PLACE CASABLANCA MUST BE.

    THAT RECIPE YOU COULDN'T GET TO TRASLATE IS A STUFFED CABBAGE, QUITE EASY AND A DIFFERENT TO ALL I HAD DONE BEFORE. THE FIRST THING IS TO MAKE A NICE STOCK AND MIX IN SOME TOMATO SAUCE OR PURÉE. YOU MUST CUT THE CENTER OF THE CABBAGE WITH A SHARP KNIFE, AND KEEP A COUPLE OF THE BIG OUTER LEAVES. YOU THEN STUFF THE CABBAGE WITH WHATEVER YOU LIKE, IN MY CASE I DICED SOME TURKEY MEAT, ONIONS, SPICES AND QUINOA ALL WELL COOKED, YOU COVER THE CABBAGE WITH THE LEAVES AND TIE IT WELL WITH A STRING AND THEN SIMMER IT 2 HOURS AT LOW TEMPERATURE IN A NICE STOCK WITH TOMATO PURÉE. MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS HAVE ENOUGH LIQUID IN THE PAN. CUT THE CABBAGE IN QUARTERS TO SERVE. YOU CAN TOP WITH THE REMAINING SAUCE THAT HAS REDUCED FROM THE 2 HOURS SIMMERING.
    TAKE CARE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pamela thanks so much for telling me what that recipe was. It sounds interesting and I may just give it a go. Much appreciated. Take care Diane xx

      Delete
  33. I miss that kind of open market where you can buy newly butchered meat and newly caught fish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rose I suspect health and safety in many countries would not allow it!! Keep well Diane

      Delete
  34. Did you purchase any other than the tagine from the market?
    It would have been neat to have been able to see the inside of the Jewish quarter homes.
    Very interesting Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Murissa no only the tajine, with flying we were limited, and the tajine had to be carried in hand or it would have been broken! I would love to have been able to see inside those homes.... Keep well Diane

      Delete
  35. The sites, the mosques, the food, the smells......Exotic! Vibrant! The souks so tempting....
    I hope you found Ric's Bar - well, a remodelled version. But it did have a great decor. And I got to say the famous line, "Of of the gin joints....." I felt like Humphrey Bogart was there! We drove up from Marrakech for the day and of course it was too short. So I shall soak up your experiences and photos vicariously. Merci beaucoup!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sunny Fields, thanks for following and for your comment. There are good and bad smells around, but the spices are so very special, I can just smell them thinking about them Mmmmmm. We were sad that we did not get to see Marrakesh or Fez, but we booked just before Christmas to go to Casablanca and did not think ahead. Renting a car was not on the books with the way the drivers drove there, too scary!! Keep well Diane

      Delete
  36. Diane, what a market area and I bet you enjoyed every minute of it walking through. The photos are great and I'd love to visit the area. And I like your dessert the best! Wish I could dig into it. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pam I wish I could have spent more time looking at things in the market but with two men (husband and guide), it is not easy to keep stopping and looking at things!!! That nougat ice cream was very special and something that I have to see if I can make :-) Keep well Diane

      Delete
  37. Wow, I loved your images from Casablanca!
    Never been there, but I have been to Marrakech.
    The food looks delicious and as tasty as I remember it.
    The traffic.... wow!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gunn the traffic was horrendous, but the food was extra special :-) Diane

      Delete
  38. Wish you a very happy blog anniversary! Love all your photos, makes me so wish I was back in France right now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Café Sucré Farine thank you, I am glad that we are now in France full time, it was a great decision we made ;-) Take care Diane

      Delete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and pass a comment. Every comment is appreciated and I try to reply to each and every one. All comments are verification free but will come to me for approval first :-)) No Anonymous Users!

Please not that if you are on Google + and I do not pass comments on your blog, I am sorry but many blogs I cannot get into any more. I tried plus and found some people could not comment on my blog so I cancelled it!