I love supermarkets. You can tell a lot about a country when you go into one. You can tell what they like to eat, what they eat most often, what’s particularly important in the certain region you’re in, and what kinds of things they value.
Morocco doesn’t have very many supermarkets. They can only be found in major cities like Casablanca or Rabat, and most people don’t shop there regularly, it at all. The majority of groceries are bought at the local weekly market, or souk, in small towns and villages.
I didn’t know any of that when I walked into this Marjane supermarket (which is owned by the Moroccan king) in Tanger on my first day in the country. Going to the supermarket is always the first thing I do in a new country, and I was curious to see how this one would be different.
One of the first things that I noticed in the Moroccan supermarket was that there was an abundance of things being sold without, or with very little, packaging, which to me reflects the tendency that I later noticed in Moroccans to not waste a single thing. There are, of course, lots of things that are sold in packages, but the fact that there is such a large section sold only by weight in such a gigantic supermarket says a lot. To me, it meant that this is the way Moroccans expect to buy their food, and is what they’re familiar with. Later, when I saw how food was sold at the local souks, this suspicion was definitely confirmed.
You can also see what kinds of things are staples in the Moroccan diet. That giant yellow pile in the photo above is made up of the little noodles that is used in Harira, a soup that is eaten at all times of the day. There are also giant bins of different kinds of lentils, beans, couscous, flour, and spices.
I generally find that you can tell what is important to people by looking at which things come in the most varieties; that is, how big that particular section is. That was especially true here. The dry food section was already telling, but there was more.
Lots of olives and olive oil.
Lots of butter, most of which looks like it is locally produced.
Lots of honey.
LOTS of spices.
And lots and lots of couscous.
The flour section was also gigantic (read: bread), but I seem to have lost my picture of it so I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination. Sorry.
It was definitely an enlightening visit, and I came out of here even more pumped, if that was even possible, to learn about this country’s food.