2006 was a fabulous year!
It was the year to indulge midlife crisis and sail from Malta, to Greece, along the whole Mediterranean coast of Turkey, before exploring the waters and shores of Northern Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. That was me in 2006. My amazing journey took 4 remarkable months; I saw incredible sights, experienced the warmest hospitality and the best flavours this vast region has to offer.
On my return, in late summer of 2006, I slotted in to a demanding job and fell pregnant. Wanderlust and morning sickness plagued my days as Christmas approached. Just as the darkest days approached and I was feeling very lost and blue, my wonderful husband surprised me with a last minute cruise booking. It was no vagabond sailing, where you go where you please, when you please, but it was to trip new lands and on the water. I was happy!
Our Christmas cruise took us island hopping across the Canaries, Madeira and finally to Morocco. We joined the excursions organised by the cruise company in most harbours; I was not in a state to go independently at that point.
However, on the 5th day of our cruise we docked in Agadir and the shore excursions involved hours of travel in buses. It was too much! I couldn’t cope with morning sickness and travel sickness. We decided to go it alone and catch a taxi into town.
We wandered around this ancient trading port and ended up in the souk. Not a souk for tourists, but one frequented by the locals. I was transported back to the summer, the exotic chaos that comes with a market full of anything and everything one can imagine. It’s like discovering Aladdin’s cave:
The smells and the sights amplified by my senses heightened by pregnancy. Dadonthebrink tenderly shielding me from busy passers-by as I hobbled along with my crutches (due to a condition called SPD, a painful condition caused by pregnancy hormones softening cartilage that holds together vital joints.) The market was a hive of activity.
The banter with the stallkeepers often led to cups of aromatic tea and blessings for the baby growing inside me. With each cup of mint tea, my expanding bladder was acting as a better and better football by the little being inside; My pace and the hustle of the market were at odds with each other, yet it was this juxtaposition that gave us the chance to have so many laughs with shop keepers. It was wonderful to connect to people through our impending parenthood. Lots of them knew the joy, the trial and tribulations that lay ahead of us. Without much language, they shared so much with us during those couple of hours.
No trip to a market is fun without actually buying some items, right?
The negotiations involved around making these purchases are some of the most fun of any trip:
Years ago in Istanbul, Dadonthebrink and I developed our good cop, bad cop bartering technique: It involves me being the stubborn, stingy, spoilt ass and Dadonthebrink being the poor husband having to put up with me, joking with the, mainly male, shopkeepers. It works for us. We all laugh a lot in the process, haggling hard, Dadonthebrink pleading the shopkeepers point sometimes. At the end all are happy.
We bought costume jewelry, shoes, scarves; some as presents, but most for ourselves.
Our day at the colourful market also involved sustaining ourselves with delicious bites of food from street food vendors; the flavours strong and varied. We were keen to be able to recreate some of these wonderful tastes at home, so we also shopped around for spices. This is Morocco at its best! At the crossroads of many trading routes from the South, East and West the Moroccan spice stalls are world famous.
We returned to our cruise ship laddened with a wonderful mix of aromatic spices, looking forward to recreating some of the exotic flavours, but also bring some of that wonderful feeling of the Moroccan souk home.
Personally, I find so much of my travel memories are intertwined with the flavours of food and the scents of the places. Recreating a flavour brings back the whole feeling of the trip. Something I’ve written about before in a lunch spiced with memories blog post.
What is your favourite foodie travel memory?
I’m a big fan of thick, filling soups, (my easy broccoli soup is here) as my friend Alice will attest (I plied her with my creations when they were in hospital locally), so I was delighted to find out about Glorious foods soups. Moroccan Spiced Chicken soup, is a warming chicken soup with chickpeas, tomato, couscous, Ras El Hanout and a dash of apricot providing a sweetness oh so familiar with Moroccan cuisine. Inspired by the winding alleyways and busy souks of ancient medina cities, lined with endless delicacies. Glorious wanted to deliver the hustle and bustle of Moroccan streets to a supermarket shelf near everyone. I reckon they’ve come pretty close. I look forward to more foodie adventures with them.