Paula Wolfert Rediscovers Marrakech
Djemaa el Fna
Djemaa el Fna: Marrakech Street Food
Marrakech's centuries-old central square in the Medina offers some of the city's best food at stalls identified only by number; stall 30 serves wonderful grilled merguez. The square can get crowded with henna painters, acrobats and snake charmers, as well as vendors who might give tourists a very hard sell. Paula Wolfert, however, says no kindly—and effectively—with the Moroccan phrase La, barak Allaho fik: "It means, 'God will grant you every wish if you leave me alone,'" she says.
Al Fassia: Moroccan Salads
In the Guéliz neighborhood of Marrakech, the restaurant Al Fassia is famous for its vegetable dishes prepared by an all-female staff.
Paula Wolfert embraces the hostess at Al Fassia after the two have a rousing discussion over mint tea about chef Halima Chab's roast lamb. Wolfert, who brings a maternal warmth to her relentless questioning, can charm almost anyone into sharing their food knowledge.
Ourika Valley: Moroccan Breads
About an hour outside Marrakech, on a field trip to the Ourika Valley in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Paula Wolfert watched a private cook with hennaed hands demonstrate how to make the pastry for her rustic trid, a braised chicken dish.
Dar Yacout: Roasted Eggplant Salad
Paula Wolfert visited the kitchens of Dar Yacout, left, where the cooks still use charcoal fires to make dishes like lush and smoky roasted-eggplant salad.
Karima's Kitchen: Lamb-Noodle Stew
Paula Wolfert learned a chicken dish called chaariya medfouna from a private cook named Karima, left. "Chaariya means noodles," Wolfert says. "Medfoun means a surprise or something hidden.” In Paula’s adaptation, the steamed noodles cover tender chunks of lamb spiced with cumin.
There are several great ways to end a meal in Marrakech, from a glass of mint tea to a dessert of poached pears with prunes.
Le Tobsil: Poached Pears
Paula Wolfert adapted this lightly spiced, unusual fruit dessert from one created by chef Fatima Mountassamin of Le Tobsil, Marrakech's most ambitious Moroccan restaurant.