Tasting the local street food is one of my favorite things to do while traveling. To me, nutrition facts and calories don’t exist in the realm of travel. If there’s something delicious to eat in the city I’m exploring, I’m going to try it.
In my opinion, street food is the best way to truly experience a place. Having said that, I’ve definitely had my fair share of stomach and digestion issues due to dining in the streets of countries like India, Thailand, and Cambodia. But no matter how bad the stomachache may be afterward, I’ll always return to the street food.
Based on the Moroccan food I’d eaten in restaurants, I knew even the street food would be different from the cuisine in any country I’ve visited recently. In my travels, I’ve found that everyday street food is lacking in many countries. It’s not just anywhere that you can stop by the outdoor market and buy food that is cooked right in front of you. I’ve never bought dessert off the street in the US or Spain. I was ready to tackle the markets and sample all the street eats I could when I arrived in Fes.
Where to Find Street Food in Fes
I didn’t even need to be inside the souk (market) or medina (main square) to be able to smell the wafting aromas of grilled meat, freshly baked bread, and juicy vegetables in the air. My mouth was already watering by the time I entered the narrow pathway of the souk, which was lined with stalls of cheese, fried potatoes, pastries, and mysterious goodies I couldn’t wait to get my hands on.
My friend Emily and I unknowingly embarked on a (mostly) free tour of the street food in Fes. As we perused the souk and medina, anything we lingered on for more than a minute was offered to us as a free sample to taste. We ate our dinner for free that night in the souk, returning with only a few purchased items to snack on at the hostel.
What’s more surprising than the flavorful food was the generosity of the market vendors. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. One fruit vendor even insisted on sharing with me half of the apple he had cut for himself, and gifted me strawberries after I bought some bananas. His simple act of kindness made my day, and the apple and strawberries were delicious.
The souk is overwhelming to say the least. There are so many curious snacks to try. Between the language barrier and sometimes-misleading look of the food, it can be difficult to discern what a street eat is actually made of. Sometimes things that look like sweet treats are actually filled with meat, or seemingly juicy fruits can lead to a mouthful of seeds. After trying and testing many items, I’ve found the street food in Fes is too good to miss. Don’t be afraid to try these six street eats! You won’t regret it.
Barbecued Meat Sandwich
Nothing in Morocco smells more delicious than barbecued meat. Famished after the car ride from Chefchaouen to Fes, we were desperate for something delicious when we arrived. The hostel manager directed to Mister Ayachi’s food stand in the souk. The glass case displayed assorted meats and even a brain, but the aroma of spices lured me in. Mister Ayachi indicated that we could choose from turkey sausage, beef, lamb, or a mix of all. I opted for the mix, of course!
The sandwich is simple: barbecued meats marinated in spices with freshly chopped cilantro and stuffed in khobz, the disk-shaped bread you’ll find everywhere in Morocco. I opted in for all the extra spices, olives and the mysterious red sauce that was heated in an pot by an electrical plug to be added on top. It sounds risky but it was so worth it.
The amalgamation of flavors of the meat, spices, olives and sauce was perfection. The sandwich was so good that I ate it twice in Fes and had it two more times from other vendors during my Morocco trip. But Mister Ayachi’s stand was the best. The second day we came to eat he even made us mint tea. This man sure knows what he’s doing!
I’d never eaten snails before visiting Morocco. I know it’s really common to eat snails in many countries, but I’d never come across it. I’d read that snails were a really popular snack in Morocco and I wanted to try it although the thought of the texture kind of made my stomach do somersaults.
I wasn’t sure what I was approaching when I walked up to the snails cart in the medina. I didn’t have a second to think about it before the vendor poured some broth and snails into two bowls and handed them to Emily and me.
We held up our bowls, snapped some photos, and slurped them down. The snails were chewy, but it was the warm, spicy broth that set the tone for the dish. Even in the Moroccan heat, the snails should not be overlooked.
Never had I ever seen food stalls with heaps upon heaps of varied blends of olives before Fes. Green olives with pits, green olives without pits, a mix of green and black olives, a mix with pickled lemons, cilantro and chili sauce – the sky is the limit when it comes to variety of olives that can be tasted in Morocco. The colors were so vibrant and the aroma so zesty it made my mouth water before I even tried one.
Out of curiosity, we ordered a giant bag of an assortment of the different olives to try. My favorite olives were mixed with some sort of chili sauce and pickled lemons – so tangy! These are undoubtedly the best olives I’ve ever had.
This flaky pastry kind of looks like a samosa, but can contain many fillings such as pistachio paste, almond paste, or even meat. The meat briouat is kind of like a mini pastilla (a larger meat pastry topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar).
I tried the almond paste and chicken briouat and to my surprise, I enjoyed the savory more than the sweet. The crunchy, flaky pastry shell mixed with the spicy meat was the ultimate combination whereas the super-sweet almond paste was a bit much for my taste buds. But why try only one when you can try all variations?
The first thing I ate in Fes was a macaron. I was about to cross the street and enter the souk when I passed by an old man holding a box of cookies. He called them macarons, and they were 2 dirhams apiece (about 20 cents). At first I turned away, thinking I would just get one after dinner. Then I swiveled back around. Why not?
That was one of the best choices I made in Morocco! The macarons didn’t look like much, but they tasted just like peanut butter cookies. Slightly glazed and crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside, these cookies were one of my favorite indulgences. Though I saw many vendors selling the same type of cookie, I only bought them from the same, unassuming old man. He charged 2 dirhams while a different vendor tried to swindle tourists by charging 10 dirhams, so I knew I had to stay loyal to my honest vendor.
My biggest regret is not buying a bulk of these cookies in Fes! I bought one in Marrakech and it was coconut flavored; still good but not nearly as phenomenal as the peanut flavored macarons I ate in Fes. After asking every vendor I saw in Marrakech, it seemed that none were peanut flavored. I was really looking forward to bringing some back home with me, but instead I left empty-handed.
Mind you, these are not macarons in the traditional sense; they don’t have a ganache center like the French cookies. Maybe they’re not really called “macarons” at all, but the sweet old vendor told me so, and I’ll choose to believe him as he made my dessert dreams come true in Fes.
I really love sugarcane juice. I have the best memories of sipping on the sweet liquid mixed with a hint of lemon from the sugarcane juice stand in my grandparents’ town outside of Mumbai. One glass was never enough, plus it’s not something you ever find back in the northeast of the US.
Just as many things in Morocco did, the sugarcane juice stand I stumbled up on in Fes made me nostalgic. It was just as sweet and refreshing as the last glass I had about 10 months ago in Mumbai.
I returned from Morocco one week ago and my stomach is only now adjusting to eating food with less spice and more simplicity. Still, I would sacrifice tapas and Spanish tortilla to return to Fes and snack on another bowl of snails or a spicy barbecued meat sandwich any day of the week!