Life in Essaouira, much like the rest of Morocco, depends on the many tourists who visit. Along the coast though, especially in this town, it revolves around the abundance of fish in the Atlantic Ocean. Having spent a whole week here, as opposed to the usual day trip from bigger cities nearby, I really got a sense of just how important fishing is to the habitants of Essaouira. It is a major financial source as well as the heart and soul of the town. The fish port is open to anyone brave enough to handle the sights and smells and it is a thrill to watch the negotiations happen between the fishermen and local men.
Needless to say, I enjoyed my fair share of langoustines, calamari, and fish, from home cooked tagines made by Amina, the fabulous housekeeper at our apartment, to upscale dishes in the town's nicest restaurants and grilled sardines on the street, all spectacular. To me, it is always a treat to be able to observe how ingredients get turned into a meal. In North America, there is such a huge disconnect between the food we purchase and the environment it was produced in. For the most part, we have to seek out opportunities to see how our food is grown, fished or raised, it doesn't come from the next block over. In Essaouira, your dinner just a stone's throw away and was fished that morning by the men you see at the port. It is that easy and, might I add, refreshing.
Next up on the itinerary is Marrakech, where the claustrophobia may kick in as the city is unanimously described as an overwhelming assault on all the senses. We are getting mentally prepared for craziness and are looking forward to the excitement.