12 Nov Tantalize Your Taste Buds: Explore the Moroccan Spice Markets
Morocco is jam-packed with souks that sell everything from produce and meats to souvenirs and spices. While everyone here at Must Do Travels love exploring them all, we are particularly fond of all the spice markets. And boy, oh boy, there are a lot of markets.
The History of Spice Markets
The spice markets in Morocco used to be held far outside of the city limits, although, the locations were carefully chosen to ensure that everyone could reach the market to purchase their necessities. There was never a set day for the spice markets, as caravans would simply stop after they passed through the city so they could sell the spices that they had available. Think of it as a pop-up shop.
Of course, the locals that arrived at the spice markets did more than shop, because there were a plethora of activities that took place at the same time. People would visit with friends and neighbors, creating a party-like atmosphere that could last for hours. Those traditional souks have practically disappeared near the major cities nowadays because there are so many other larger shops readily available to purchase spices. However, in smaller villages and towns, the traditional spice souks are flourishing, bringing lasting memories to newer generations.
Main Spices Within the Markets
The Moroccan spice markets are filled with bright, colorful spices that emit fabulous aromas as far as you can smell. While these spices can make your future meals taste amazing, some of them can also be used to treat specific ailments.
There are ten spices that every Moroccan believes that they need to have inside their home, but they need to buy them fresh every few weeks or less to optimize the flavors and the benefits. We recommend you pay close attention to the most important spices in the country. Those spices are saffron, paprika, cumin, sesame seeds, black pepper, aniseed, cayenne, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger. You may want to purchase a little sea salt while you are there as well. It’s a spice haven!
Prices of the Must-Needed Spices
The prices of the must-needed Moroccan spices will vary; however, you should be able to bargain to get the price down to about half of the asking price. The only spice that you’ll have a difficult time negotiating is the saffron. Therefore, we urge you to question the quality of this spice if a vendor instantly agrees to accept less than asking price. This spice is easily counterfeited, and people do purposely sell imposter saffron to earn a lot of money. Since one pound of saffron can cost upwards of four thousand dollars, it is easy to see why everyone needs to be cautious.
If you’re considering a saffron purchase during your travels, we urge you to head to the town of Taliouine. This is where some of the best saffron is grown and harvested and you will learn a lot about this spice during your visit there. It’s worth the trek.
When to Visit?
There’s never a right or wrong day to visit any of the spice markets in Morocco, but we prefer to stop by on Fridays. Our reasoning behind this is that most of the locals prepare and enjoy large family meals on this holy day. Since Moroccans prefer to purchase their food as they need it, they will have to go to the markets before they start cooking their meals that day.
You may be a little intimidated by the sheer volume of people at first, but we encourage you to relax and simply watch what is taking place around you. You’ll see people approaching the stands, looking at the colors, smelling the aromas and maybe even asking for a small taste to check for the quality. After you’ve watched for some time, you too will be ready to make your very first spice purchase in Morocco.
You may think that the spice markets are just part of the tourist trap of Morocco, but these souks are the real deal. In fact, once you have had a taste of any of the spices that are sold in them, you will never be able to buy them off a grocery store shelf again!