Shopping in Morocco is not for the faint-hearted. Everywhere you go, people are eager to bring you in to their shops and sell you a wide variety of goods that you didn’t know you wanted.
For someone such as myself, a pretty hesitant shopper at the best of times, and happiest when I can browse anonymously, visiting the souks promised to be a daunting experience and it’s true to say that there were moments when I found it overwhelming. Still, once you begin to develop a little more assertiveness and avoid getting drawn into the hard-sell conversations, you can have a very enjoyable time wandering through the very colourful streets.
It’s hard to know what area the main souks cover. The map cannot begin to represent the maze of tiny streets, and was often misleading, completely omitting all the twists and turns. The goods available cover everything from carpets to musical instruments to food, and it’s a little alarming to happen upon a poutry stall, where the chickens are plucked straight from cages at the back and plonked onto the weighing scales, legs kicking. Next to the chicken stalls are those selling fresh eggs – crate upon create piled up and often delivered on the back of a bicycle. We regularly saw cyclists carrying 10 or 20 crates of eggs!
One part of the souks that nearly eluded us altogether was the olive souk. The description in the guide book promised us stalls heaped with olives and preserved lemons and Mum and I were determined to find it. After separate attempts on two different days, and five circuits of the same set of stalls, we were just about to give up when we rounded a corner and happened upon it. True to the descriptions, we found a collection of stalls stocked with a variety of olives, and the preserved lemons which are a feature of many Moroccan recipes. The stallholders were happy to let us test the different olives, and perhaps a little surprised when we also requested 12 of the lemons to take away with us.