Lamb by the Kilo

The next morning we hit the streets early in order to see the historical sites before the sun rose directly above the Medina and, in theory, made the temperatures soar.  But we were extraordinarily lucky this trip because the temperature stayed pretty mild - almost sweater in the evening mild.

Our first stop was the Ben Youssef Medersa.  Like the Medersas, or Islamic colleges, of Fez, the Ben Youssef Medersa was a place where students could live and study - the Koran as well as other subjects.  It operated from the 14th century until 1960 when it was closed down, renovated, and reopened in 1982 as a public historical sight.

Once inside I tucked myself in the corner, shielding my notebook from the glaring sun, and sketched the fountain and Merdersa walls for some time.  Although my drawing skills leave much to be desired, it was a great way to soak in the feeling of the place.
Next we hit the Marrakesh Museum and the Almoravid (12th century) Koubba - el-Ba'adyn.  Koubba is the Arabic word for tomb and I'm not really sure how it fits in here because this Koubba, with its domed room and basin along the floor, was used for ablutions, or ritual washing before prayers.
While the Mechoui we ate the night before was fantastic (despite accidently eating large chunks of preserved lemon by accident not once but twice) we wanted to have a more authentic Marrakshi meal.  When we explained to our Riad hostess that morning that we were looking for real street Mechoui she drew a lot of squiggly lines on our map this way and that before marking a giant X on a small side street of Jemaa Al-Fnaa.  I snapped a series of pictures so you could encounter the street just as we did.
 They refer to this dish as Mechoui.  In Morocco it is a whole lamb (like the whole thing) roasted over a spit.  In this little ally a man known as "The Hajj" hacks the lamb up with an axe and sells it by kilo. So we bellied up, ordered our kilo, and were handed almost 2 pounds of what we think was part of a leg in   thin sheets of paper.  We picked through the mechoui with our hands in a small white tiled hole in the wall (literally) off the street, about 10 feet squared.  The couple sitting behind us, and I really mean behind us - the place was so small our bums met off the back of our chairs - picked the thing clean while we left the bits we couldn't discern or  break apart after a few bites.

It was delicious.    

We finished our meal just after prayers and as we left the ally we noticed large groups of men performing one of the 5 daily Islamic prayers.  I had never seen devotion like this in public and it was really something to behold.  They all kneel on prayer rugs facing Mecca and perform certain physical movements associated with the prayer as well as Koranic recitations.  Beautiful.


  1. I love following your blog! These pics are beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  2. thanks so much heather! Always nice to have readers :)

  3. Wow - these pictures are amazing!

  4. Thanks Donna - it's not hard to be inspired here.