Wandering around the Medina is unlike anything I have before experienced. Tangier is a city ancient and mysterious; at least that’s how I envisioned it. Wandering through the ancient city I feel a kinship to Theseus. It is a winding and twisting labyrinth. While Theseus had to face the fearsome minotaur my nemesis within the maze is the numerous yapping men trying to con me into one thing or another. “That way is closed my friend” or “the Kasbah is this way” are phrases I have heard more times than I can recall. Of course neither have yet proven true. The reactions get more heightened when they realize I’m not buying it; “F-ing American!” or “I will cut your beard out!” or, my favorite “you have a beard. you are a man not a boy so come over here!”. Really? I mean obviously nothing but awesome could be gained by going down that road. Geesh.
I suspect that being big, tall and blonde makes it obvious I’m not from aound here. Luckily that business has only occurred on the fringes of the old city. It’s also worth noting that I never actually felt threatened by any of them; it’s just annoying and honestly, far less scary than some of the characters I’ve met in bars in Alaska or the streets of Phoenix. Furthermore, I have been debating if those folks hassling me add or detract from the experience of visiting Tangier. Certainly it’s not something I would describe as pleasant, but that alone does not necessarily lessen the intrinsic value of the visit to this city. In point of fact; just as the mark of Necromonger teaches recruits how one pain can lessen another; I have found that my annoyance with those men has lessened the annoyance of lingering heartbreak. If nothing else it gives a new direction to divert feelings of loss and sadness.
Once you get inside the market, the harassment ceases and a whole new world is experienced. The Kasbah is unveiled before me and thousands come and go seeking this and that. The vendors offer pretty much anything you can think of. Of course food, clothing, necessities and the carpets and metalworking for which Morocco is known are readily available. There are also random assortments of sundries such as food trays from an old ferry company, early dslr (4megapixel) cameras and toys that I think originated from late 1980’s happy meals. On a side note I remember the first time I ordered something besides a happy meal at McDonald’s. It was under the duress of peer pressure and it was a loss of innocence that hurt much like the discovery of the true nature of Santa Clause. Such thoughts fill my head until the scents of spices I have never before smelled, waft from blocks away and invigorate my mind, while the steep stairs leading north to Cafe Hafa invigorate the body.
Cafe Hafa has been open since the 1920’s and was a favorite spot of, among many others no doubt, Bowles and Burroughs. The view is an unobstructed panorama of the Spanish and Moroccan coasts and the Strait of Gibraltar running between. With the Atlantic to the left and the Mediterranean to the right, it is not surprising this city has mingled with so many cultures and influences. A unique recipe for a vibrant, and indeed exotic place. Much to my delight that recipee extends to the cuisine.
“Tajine! Tajine! my country for Tajine!” This was the original line from Richard III before Shakespeare decided to change it out of fear that not only would the Tudors disapprove, but also that few people in London would have tasted and in turn known of the delight of Tajine. The featured image above was my first taste of this magnificent dish. Dodging the wind and the deposits from the diving gulls above, the mint tea and tajine at Cafe Hafa was my first taste of Morocco; and by god it was a good one. To be honest I’m still not entirely sure what constitutes tajine. All I know is that it comes in several varieties and all of them are dank…like full on wazanadank (on the off chance that any of my old Humboldt chums come across this). It’s spicy and savory and delicious and I want it always. To that end I shall head to Marrakech in the morning and take a cooking class! I shall also leave you will a couple of culinary photos of my other feasting thus far and a classic track from Beats Antique.
Ménage à Trois – 3 Continents – North America, Europe, Africa