Of all the websites in all the………….. Oh, come on, you just knew I was going to begin with something from that dire little B movie, didn’t you?
Before I arrived in Casablanca, I had a look at a couple of guidebooks. One described it as “unloved and unlovely” and the other was even less favourable describing it as ‘actively rank”
I knew immediately that I would like it here and I have. A great deal.
Oh, it is far from being a pretty city. In fact, it is downright ugly and has none of the tourist attractions I anticipate seeing in Fez or Marrakech in the next few days.
Despite that, it has the appeal that DH often seek out. That is, a city just getting on with it, none too bothered if you are a visitor or not. It is a city full of working stiffs just concentrating on earning their daily crust and then spending the rest of the time eating that crust anywhere they can find it.
It may not be a city with much to look at bar the Hassan II mosque with its 100,000 capacity, a tatty looking Medina and a bit of a port, but it is a city that makes up for it with its own bustling charm and enough food options to make a palate jaded by more than a year on the road perk up and take notice.
It is a city where you can pop into any neighbourhood snack bar and get an excellent mixed grill of chicken, merguez sausages, beef chunks and lamb chops for £2.
It is a city where you can amble into any local patisserie and come away with a box of pastries so good you want to put them on the bed and roll around in them while making “ooh-ahh” noises
It is a city where supper can be taken at a small storefront next to the market where half a spit roast chicken is served with a warm dipping sauce of juices from the bird mixed with oil, parsley, garlic, lemon zest and pine nuts all to be mopped up with chunks of bread.
It is a city where, alongside the same market you can have a plateful of exquisite fried fish and seafood for less than a Starbucks back in London and it is a city where slow cooked tagines with chicken and preserved lemons followed by a dense, meaty pastilla of pigeon dusted with icing sugar can be had any time of day.
It is city where, with nothing in particular to look at, you can look at nothing in particular, for as long as you like, while drinking glasses of sweet tea infused with thick bunches of mint or strong, thick, black coffee.
It is also a city where it is easier to find a camel’s head on a hook, outside a butchers shop, than it is to find a beer. But, that’s Morocco.
As I said I rather like Casablanca it could be the beginning of …………….
I really am terribly sorry.
For those Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fans amongst you. Tomorrow sees me on The Marrakech Express. It’s taking me to Marrakech don’t you know?