Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eating Vegan in Morocco: Rabat

The Mister and I are just back from a 4-week Grand Excursion to Morocco, Lisbon (Portugal), and Spain. Phew! So, over the next little while, I'll gradually be blogging about what I ate along the way. None of the places we visited top the list for vegan-friendly eating, but of the three, Morocco most definitely wins the prize. Unlike Portugal and Spain, people in Morocco appear to actually enjoy eating vegetables, and are more than competent at cooking them up in various yummy ways.

In general, during the course of the trip, I definitely experienced some genuine hunger pains... and even more than that, many instances of low-energy mental fog induced by lack of food. But I ate Clif Bars, and bread, and soda, and overall I usually managed to find something passing for a meal at least once a day.

In retrospect it sort of surprises me that as a devoted foodie, I don't have more pictures of food... but I think a great deal of what I ate was truly not noteworthy, and the rest of the time I was probably too damn hungry to care about taking pictures! All the same, there are some tales and photos to share...

So I'll start with the first city we visited, Rabat. I'll try to stay on-topic, since this is a vegan food blog. But in my rule book, vegan food blogs are also allowed to feature animal pictures. At the Chellah, an wonderfully evocative ancient site in Rabat, there are big storks with nests full of babies everywhere you look. Yay!

One of the many things I loved about Morocco was being able to eat the street food. I've been to India twice now, but I am a bit freaked out by the street food there. India is just that much dirtier and grimier... and I am wary to take the risk. But in Morocco, with a discerning eye, I felt up to the task! In Rabat, they have a pretty active street food scene - with guys selling all sorts of stuff, some of which is even vegan! We both enjoyed sandwiches from these vendors in the medina. In my case, mine was bread, fried eggplant, grilled peppers, onions, salsa, cumin and salt. Mmmmmm. It was definitely yummy enough that I would consider trying to recreate it on my own at home.

Olives are everywhere in northern Morocco... either cured and for sale in the market, or still on the trees in the countryside. Olives olives olives. The olive booths were so beautiful and seemed that in each town we visited, there were slightly different recipes. Mr. Vegan Eats and Treats really loved the lemony olives here in Rabat (made with preserved lemons).

Rabat is a mellow, coastal city... home to the King's palace, and the governmental center of the country. It was a great place to land and find our legs because (for the most part) the people were super friendly and not particularly interested in tourists. Our traveling methodology can probably be summed up in one word: wandering. In one of our wanderings we came across the Rabat surfing club. Coming from surf-centric Santa Cruz, we were feeling quite at home indeed. So we rested a while, enjoyed an apple flavored Poms soda, and looked out at the lovely sea.

See these little breads? They are E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. in northern Morocco. I can't vouch for the other parts of Morocco, 'cuz we didn't go there. But I'd be willing to bet money these little mini loaves are hard to escape. Sometimes they are made with all-purpose flour, and other times with a light whole wheat, and both variations are delicious. If you are also a vegan traveler, I don't need to tell you how many of these little buggers I ate. Many. But, lucky, they are always, always super fresh and quite pleasant to eat. This is the bread that came with breakfast, this is the bread that the sandwiches were on, this is the bread that came with dinner. Which is probably why this hard-working fella is making so many of them!

One night in Rabat we had dinner at the Riad (guest house) where we were staying. In the morning they confidently assured me that they understood my vegan request, but dinner proved this was not the case. The vegetable couscous came with two large pieces of lamb resting on top. NOT VEGAN. And the 2nd course was a chicken pastry. According to Mr. VE&Ts it was very delicious, so maybe I will try to veganize it. Nonetheless, he had two. Thank goodness for the starters, which were all clearly vegan... 4 nice little dishes with different veggie dishes: spiced carrots, eggplant spread, some cucumber spears with mint... Oh, and the bread. Still, it wasn't a total bust, because just look at how beautiful it was. It's hard to be too grumpy about that!

Moroccan Mint Tea. LOVE IT!!! Everywhere, everywhere. Anytime. Mint Tea. It's so delicious. Minty, sugary, and served piping hot. I loved it and drank it at least twice a day. As a traveller, it's such a nice way to rest, rehydrate, and do some people watching. I plan on doing some Mint Tea experimenting from the many recipes online and getting back to you soon with details on enjoying your own Moroccan mint tea.

Luckily, there is plenty of delicious fruit in Morocco. It was so fun to buy bananas and know that they were from nearby! Cool! And dates! And oranges oranges oranges. Orange trees lining the streets and government parking lots and parks. Many orange trees.

Last but not least, as we are heading out of town to our next destination, I am munching on some nut candies from the market place. Mr VE&Ts got nougat (not vegan), and I got this delicious almond bar. Mmmmmmm. I justified this enormous chunk of candy by calling it "nuts" and reminding myself that I needed some healthy nuts in my diet. Right?

Next up... the journey continues deep into the mountains of Northern Morocco!

16 comments:

  1. The bread looks yummy! When I traveled to Italy last year, I at tons of the artisan bread that was everywhere too!

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  2. Great photos! The stork nests are awesome. Morocco looks gorgeous, and thank goodness for that bread!

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  3. I love your travel pics and notes and whatnots. I would even sit through an amey and mr. vegan eats and treats slide night. Also, whose muddy shorts and skirt did we bring home? Inquiring minds...

    <3

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  4. Yes! You need that almond candy... some healthy fat with all that bread. Mmm, Moroccan bread.

    Also, BABY STORKS!

    And also also, those olives look amazing.

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  5. wow what great fruits and bread...this is real treat for us to see. thank you for this wonderful post.

    http://nuestracena-vegancuisine.blogspot.com

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  6. Anonymous2:33 AM

    Thanks for this wonderful post & site, Amey.
    We have linked Vegan Eats & Treats to our vegan site in Vietnamese language for those readers who can understand English: VietnamAnchay.blogspot.com
    Cheers :)

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  7. I want to dive into those vats of olives! Yum! What an exciting trip- Can't wait to hear more.

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  8. This sounds like an amazing trip (minus the dead lamb)! Thank you for sharing the pictures. I think I could live on olives and bread alone for days!

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  9. Fun fun fun! I'm glad you found things to eat despite some bumps in the road.

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  10. Welcome back! Sounds and looks like an amazing trip despite the lack of vegan-friendly eating places. But what you did find looks great, especially those olives and bread and the fruit too. And I'm very interested in the minty tea too. :-)

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  11. It is good to see you back.

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  12. Hi Amey! This is so excellent. I leave for Morocco on Sunday, and this post will be helpful, as will any others. I've traveled a lot as a vegan, but am anxious about this trip and finding vegan eats. I will go to Rabat and Fes. Do you have any advice about what to wear? Do women need long skirts/long sleeves? Any restaurant recommendations?

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  13. Welcome back! Your pictures are amazing!

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  14. It all looks so colourful and yummie. I especially love the picture of the fruits and vegetables.

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  15. Anonymous5:00 AM

    Thanks, very nice article.

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  16. Random Guy Heading to Rabat9:57 AM

    This is awesome. I'm not vegan, but want to lighten my diet while on a work trip to Rabat. It's great to see the photos and get an idea of the food there. Glad this post came up first on my Google search!

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Happy VeganMoFo! I love comments, they really make my day!