Evenings in Marrakesh, after browsing the shop windows of the jewellers and cobblers we liked to settle down to eat in the outstanding Djemaa el Fna, which our guidebook called "the finest city square in the world." And it was indeed pretty wonderful: acrobats, story tellers, snake charmers, and row after row of brightly-lit foodstalls.
It was the best place on earth to eat. Around the edge of the square were the restaurants serving warm couscous and stewed meats, and the ubiquitous sidewalk cafes serving mint tea and steaming black coffee. But across the rest of the square every stall was a new delight: heaps of walnuts, almonds, and salted cashews, dried apricots, fresh prunes, figs, and dates.
We liked to settle down at one of the long wooden benches for a local specialty, Soupe a la Moroccaine, a tomato bisque full of vegetables and spices served in a deep ceramic bowl with a wooden spoon the size of a small ladle. In the cold, mountain air, nothing was more satisfying.
Well, perhaps one thing: the fresh oranges. We ended each night with a tall glass of Marrakesh's finest fresh-squeezed orange juice, and in the cold December air the juice was sweeter than I expected.
I remembered then that for years, the boxes of clementines we used to enjoy come from Morocco. We learned as well the origin of the word Tangerine is the city of Tangier, from where they were first exported. It was the world's simplest pleasure to, for 3 dirhams, watch the vendor select the plumpest oranges from the stack and squeeze them into a tall glass. Even more than the renowned mint tea, for me, this was the taste of Morocco.
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