There’s a huge difference in experience when visiting Jamaa el Fna during the evening compared to the day. During the day, it’s pretty sparse with a few orange juice vendors and a number of ladies offering to henna your hands, surrounded by carts pulled by donkeys and men pushing barrows or on scooters.
But at night the square comes alive – with the call of prayer in the background, you can enjoy the spectacle of the Jamaa el Fna unfold as you eat as much harissa, merguez and pigeon pastilla at one of the many food stalls there. We ate at Stall 32, ‘Hassan’ after much research. The food did not disappoint – the merguez in particular were incredible – tender, moist, beautifully seasoned with a great lamb flavour. The harissa (tomato and lentil type soup) and vegetable tagine were also very good – the vegetables literally melted in your mouth. We also tried a pigeon pastilla, a type of pie consisting of shredded pigeon enveloped in layers of flakey pastry topped with some icing sugar – it was an interesting combination of savoury and sweet and definitely worth a try.
After dinner you could purchase dessert from a separate cart and take a digestive walk through Jamaa el Fna. The atmosphere was intoxicating – with families dining together amongst snake charmers, monkeys handlers, henna tattooists along with the general noise and site of the stall vendors in the souks. It was fascinating to see the beautiful dried fruits and nuts and to see all the spices, dried flowers and argan oil alongside stalls that sold tea cups, lanterns, mirrors, babouches, leather bags, poufs and jewellery.