15 foods you should try in Fez, Morocco
You are probably giddy with excitement in preparation for a trip to Fez (Fes) or have landed in Fez and trying to work out what foods you must try. Either way, a large part of you is probably a bit lost with only snippets of information to go by. Not an unusual experience but probably one that you’d need a bit of help with. I’ve picked 15 foods (including drinks) we think you must try whilst in Fez.
Found all year round you can’t miss this in the Fez medina. They would normally come in three or four choices – lamb, beef, heart and liver brochettes. There is is also a kefta or mince meat option. What struck me about Fez brochettes were the small sized cube in which the meat was cut. Mine which I bought close to the Blue gate from a brochettes seller I had grown fond of was doused in, as they normally are, in chilli and cumin.
Harira is arguably the most popular soup in Fez and by extension Morocco. Had either on its own or as a starter, harira is a savoury Fez soup made with dried legumes — lentil, chickpeas, fava beans and is traditionally cooked with lamb or lamb broth. Café Clock, the famous Fez restaurant and a plethora of other more down scale restaurants in the medina serve harira especially during Ramadan.
Tagines are not specific to Fez. They are a typically Moroccan dish that is named after the clay pot they are cooked in. I first had a tagine in Marrakesh a couple of years ago and quickly got hooked. If you are a fan of incredibly spice infused flavours and slow cooked meat then you must try a tagine in Fez. For a more traditional tagine visit one of the restaurants near the Blue Gate in the medina such as Chez Rashid or Laglali. For a more modern twist I visited the Ruined Gardens for a turkey tagine.
This Fez culinary delight triggered a few arguments about its origins when I bought some from a delightful Nougat seller in the medina I nicknamed Mr Smiley to bring to share with colleagues after my trip. In the end, we agreed that Nougat’s origins may be traced to Europe and to some extent the Middle East but, it is now firmly a Fez delicacy popular in the souks. Definitely worth a try especially if like me, you have a sweet tooth and like your sweets things chewy.
It was both a challenge and a bit of a trek to try out maakouda. I had it on my must try list. Even though I trekked a few miles away from my riad into the modern part of Fez city to get my Maakouda, it turned out that, that was not necessary. There are plenty of maakouda sellers in the old Fez city (medina). I had heard Cyrnoss did the best Maakoudas which by the way are best described as potato cakes or fritters.
Sugar Coated Peanuts
You’ll notice sugar coated peanut sellers in the medina doing a brisk trade. These are crunchy and come in handy as you stroll around and need a quick filler. They are normally weighed first then put in a cone made of an old newspaper. I was fortunate enough to witness the process of coating the peanuts too.
The star of the show in the medina no doubt. I would suggest you take your time to sample as man,y based on ripeness, as you can. I spent a few minutes with Iddris, an olive seller in the medina (alongside a bunch of photographers) who gave me some harissa sauce to go with my olives. Certainly a must try given Morocco is in the top 3 of olive exporters in the world so they must be good! I had olives as starters and even as part of my tagine at Laglali. Eating olives here is as Fez as you get.
Be prepared to eat bread with virtually every meal in Fez. I had pretty much all the various types Fez had to offer – Khobz, mahrash, msemen, harsha and batbout. It is interesting to note that Moroccan breads are mostly pan fried and you’ll notice street sellers frying them in their bakeries in the medina.
I had chebakia pretty much every day. It is a Moroccan pastry made of strips of dough rolled to resemble a flower head. It is deep-fried until golden after which it is coated with a syrup which could be honey and sprinkled with sesame. At Fez’s Café Clock chebakia was served with harira (Morocco’s hearty soup) which is not uncommon. Chebakia is yet another sweet snack that you should try in Fez.
Almond briwats are crescent-shaped pastries with ground almond and sugar filling. Apparently briwats were found in medieval manuscripts in Baghdad where they were referred to as the “Brides fingers”. Royalty in some way Briwats may be, but in Fez they were as common as muck. Even though I had only the almond filled ones, they do also come filled with chicken or lamb and mixed with cheese, chilli and lemon.
Pastilla or B’stilla or Bisteeya
Photo source: Pastilla
Pastilla was the number one must-have on my list but ended up being the very last thing I had in Fez. In fact that’s not true. I had to get it as a takeaway from a restaurant by the Bab Boujloud (Blue Gate) as my taxi driver to the airport waited with me. Pastilla is a Moroccan pie which incorporates sweet and salty flavours alongside a combination of crumbly layers of crêpe-like dough. What makes pastilla unique is that it is filled with incredible flavours and spices but created to confuse what our senses are used to by dusting it with icing sugar. Wood pidgeon is often the meat used in filling it.
Have a refreshing orange juice whilst you stroll around in the medina. There are men with carts of the stuff pretty much everywhere. My love of Moroccan orange juice started in Marrakesh. Fez is no different. There is just something about the OJ here that is incomparable to most. The sellers will go through the entire process of cutting the fresh oranges into halves, then using juicers to get the juice out into a glass or plastic container for take away.
shlada nationale (Moroccan salad)
I had this salad as a starter in a three course meal with tagine. It came with Khobz (Moroccan bread). The main ingredients are feggous or cucumber, ripe tomatoes, finely chopped onions, lemon juice, parsley, olive oil and vinaigrette. Shlada made for a fine starter and quiet frankly I’d happily have it as a dish on its own.
This is a no brainer. You would have to be extremely elusive to avoid having mint tea in Fez. This is what you’d be given as a welcoming drink as you enter your riad or indeed visit any one. Your job is to just be polite and say “Na’am” or “Oui” when you are offered a glass of one. Mint tea is sold in almost every back street as well as in upscale restaurants. One of the best I had was at Made In M.
This is probably a case of leaving the best till last. A little unfair given Rfissa is hard to find in Fez. The ingredients includes lentils and spices alongside chicken and the technique is confined to slow cooking until everything falls apart. Apparently Rfissa is the favoured meal for women who’ve just been through the trauma of child birth as legend has it that it replenishes nutrients faster than most meals. I had mine in Café Clock in Fez.