Food & travel just go hand in hand. What's better than sampling as much of the local foods as possible? I never thought a Christmas Eve lunch would include camel, but it did!
Morocco was full of surprises and delights. It was much colder in some areas than I expected, the medinas were a confusing maze (in Jemaa el Fna, Marrakesh we were told to follow the sun to get back to the main square…and it worked!) and I drank more super sweet mint tea than ever before.
I travelled with a friend through Morocco on the 15 day Best of Morocco tour with Intrepid Travel. The trip had its ups and downs, as it does when travelling with a group of strangers who all have different expectations but overall the experience was incredible. Of course food was very much a part of the experience for me. I couldn't wait to have a tajine, dates, olives, and camel. Yes, camel! In Meknes I had some fantastic roast chicken, sampled the local wine and ate a camel burger in the medina of Fes. I knew that for lunch that day we were stopping to have a camel burger and I think I talked about it the entire morning as we wandered through the medina.
The medina in Fes (sometimes spelled Fez), known locally as Fes el Bali, is one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world. We had a guided walking tour, thankfully, because the lanes and alleyways were very confusing! The medina is filled with butchers, spices, market stalls, crafts, shops, and tanneries.
When lunchtime rolled around we stopped at a butcher to get the camel meat, freshly ground, mixed with spices and a nice hunk of fat to keep the burgers moist. It was a bit strange to see the camel head hanging in front of the shop, but it certainly is a good way to indicate what kind of meat is for sale.
The next stop was the communal kitchen where the meat would be formed into patties and cooked for us. Of course, we had a nice warm cup of mint tea while we waited for our burgers to be cooked.
It was during this tea drinking time that I started to feel a little nervous about eating camel. I started to think about the camel head hanging at the butcher shop and wondered if that image would pop up each time I took a bite of the burger. The burgers arrived served on fresh buns, topped with onions & tomatoes and looked just like any other burger. I let the others start first so I could see their reaction to the taste and not a single person didn't like it, so I dove in.
I was pleasantly surprised, it was not as gamey I expected it to be. The cook had made small sausage-like pieces instead of forming it into a full patty so it was cooked nicely all the way through (I'm not sure..is it okay to eat rare camel?) and the spices, onions & tomatoes added a lovely flavour. I never thought a Christmas Eve lunch would include camel, but it did, it was fine.