Dining (mis)adventures in Morocco

Escargot aux espice in the medina of Casablanca
Escargot aux espice in Casablanca | Photo by Lauren Girardin

I like snails. I like them steaming hot on a cart in Casablanca. Stick a toothpick in their cute little head and yank them out of their shell. The meat is tender, like shellfish. Yum. Wash it down with a swig of the spiced broth in which they were cooked.

More than an afternoon snack, these escargots aux epices were a first taste of the exotic following weeks of frantic travel preparations in suburbia and several hours of chaotic urbanity in Casablanca.

A few days later, I was laid up sick in a hotel with my stomach tied in a knot. First I, then Lauren, succumbed to some local parasite. Instead of exploring the cool coastal town of Essaouira, Lauren and I took some downtime to heal in a riad. Rustic cannons pointed out at a raging sea would have to sit lonely while we recovered. Instead of strolling down the beach watching French kite surfers, we were inside wondering what had caused our illness.

Ladders in Casablanca
Ladders in Casablanca | Photo by Lauren Girardin

Perhaps it was the salade morocaine I ordered from a sidewalk cafe at 5 p.m. when all other restaurants were closed. Maybe it was the cous-cous from the lonely restaurant Le Dauphin down a dark stone street, or maybe it was the water that our disappointing Rough Guide assured us was safe to drink. It could have been any one of these or none of them. Who knows?

I bought bottled water from a man who gave me my change with a hand covered in raw meat. I carried that cash straight to our hotel and washed it thoroughly. My point is – there are many sources for germs in Morocco.

My escargot, served fresh and hot from the cooking vat, would not hurt me.

So, don’t blame it on the snails.

Photos from Casablanca, Morocco

If you can’t see the photo slide show above, view the photo set on Flickr.