Feasting in Fez: Discovering the Culinary Heart of Morocco

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 3, 2024 12:30 PMNews
Aerial view of washing area
Aerial view of washing area. Source: unsplash

Fez, often considered the cultural and spiritual epicenter of Morocco, offers more than just a step back into the medieval ages; it’s a city where food traditions are deeply intertwined with daily life and history. For culinary adventurers, Fez’s medina serves as a labyrinth of flavors, where each turn and narrow alley leads to delicious discoveries from centuries-old recipes to innovative kitchens that continue to redefine Moroccan cuisine.

Traditional Tastes at The Ruined Garden

In the heart of Fez’s ancient medina, The Ruined Garden stands out as a culinary retreat that honors traditional Fassi food culture. Here, chef Nezha Bouayadi, to the backdrop of Arabic R&B, skillfully rolls couscous by hand every Friday—a process she mastered at a young age. This restaurant not only offers a rare chance to see couscous made from scratch but also delights guests with dishes that encapsulate the essence of local cuisine, like saffron-flecked roast pumpkin and courgette paired with homemade couscous.

From Market to Table: Fez Cooking School

Exploring Fez’s culinary landscape involves more than dining; it's an invitation to participate. At Fez Cooking School, situated in Palais Amani, visitors can dive hands-on into the rich tapestry of Moroccan cooking. Led by Loubna El Bouchikhi, the school offers a tour of the local kissaria (covered markets) before turning the fresh, seasonal ingredients into classic dishes like zaalouk on the school’s rooftop kitchen, overlooking a cityscape of minarets and imperial tombs.

A Modern Twist at Nur

For a contemporary dining experience, Nur offers an exquisite fine-dining atmosphere where chef Najat Kaanache, a protégée of Ferran Adrià, showcases her avant-garde take on Moroccan cuisine. This restaurant strips back traditional staples like couscous and tagine to create a menu that surprises and delights with innovative dishes, such as seaweed tacos with white fish and a Moroccan halba cake that brings a modern twist to local flavors.

Cafe Clock: A Cultural Hub

Cafe Clock, a fusion of cafe and cultural hub, reflects the vibrant community spirit of Fez. Here, visitors can savor a camel burger—an homage to Morocco’s nomadic traditions—while enjoying aissawa music, a spirited local form of call and response, echoing through the medina. Established by Mike Richardson, this cafe not only serves up unique culinary offerings but also acts as a lively gathering place for both locals and travelers.

Elevated Experiences: Riad Fes

No culinary tour of Fez is complete without experiencing the local wines. At the rooftop bar of hotel Riad Fes, guests can sample wines from Morocco’s burgeoning vineyards, with views of the city’s historical heart. This spot is perfect for reflecting on a day spent exploring, with a glass of Chateau Roslane’s signature Cabernet Merlot or a crisp local rosé in hand.

Conclusion: Fez's Culinary Richness

Fez captivates not just with its historical grandeur but with its vibrant culinary scene that offers a profound connection to its rich past and an exciting glimpse into its evolving future. From traditional kitchens to boundary-pushing restaurants, Fez is a city that invites food lovers to explore, taste, and discover.

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