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There are four historical capital cities which have been Imperial Cities of Morocco: Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat. However, at this present time, Rabat is the capital of Morocco.

Marrakech, also spelled Marrakesh, is the chief city of central Morocco. It was the first of Morocco’s four imperial cities, and lies in the center of the fertile, irrigated Haouz Plain, south of the Tennsift River. Morocco is well known for its cuisine which is one of the best in the Arabic countries of the Middle East.

Surrounded by a vast palm grove, the medina in Marrakech is called the “red city” because of its buildings and ramparts of beaten clay, which were built during the residence of the Almohads. The heart of the medina is Jamaa el-Fna square, a vibrant marketplace.

Marrakech is famous for its parks, especially the Menara olive grove and the walled 1,000-acre (405-hectare) Agdal gardens. An irrigation system built under the Almoravids is still used to water the city’s gardens. Popular for tourism and winter sports, the city is a commercial center for the High Atlas Mountains and Saharan trade and has an international airport. It is connected by railway and road to Safī and Casablanca.

Many dishes are based on meats such as goat, beef, lamb, mutton, chicken and seafood. Flavorings include preserved lemon, cold pressed argan oil, olive oil and dried fruits. Common herbs include mint, parsley and coriander. Moroccan cuisine strongly emphasizes the use of herbs and spices with Ras el Hanout being the most popular.

The above picture is Ras el Hanout lamb and couscous. Doesn’t it look delicious? And I bet it tastes superb!

Take care!

Prof. Carl Boniface

P.S. Ras el Hanout is woody, pungent, and bitter, but it's also sweet because of the nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. And it's not spicy like you might think – just warm. Because of its strong flavors, it makes a great marinade or spice rub for meats, and it's traditionally used in tajines and stews.

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