Morocco. North African country. But the distance from Europe. It takes about four hours by plane to go from London to any city in Morocco. A little less than Paris. Europeans’ favorite place to hang out. The big reason is the weather. When Europe is cold in winter in October-November, the temperature in almost all Moroccan cities is close to thirty. Deserts, mountains, seas everything is there. It is possible to stay and eat. The Road communication system is quite good. Even remote villages in the Atlas Mountains, one of the largest in Africa, can be easily reached by car.
Morocco has French influence. From 1912 to 1956 it was under the guardianship of the French, the colony can say. Many people still speak French like their mother tongue. A few years ago, I boarded a flight from London to Marrakesh. With family. Multiple flights a day from London to Marrakesh. From almost all airports in London. Tickets are affordable. About seven to ten thousand rupees. Marrakesh is one of the lifebloods of the North African economy. Atlas is a bustling city at the foot of the mountains.
Evening to arrive at the hotel. We are hungry. I will leave the hotel after dinner, the smiling staff of the hotel told me to get out. To see Marrakesh at night. Jema-al-Fana. One of the busiest places in the city. There are numerous restaurants. Open all night. There will be no difficulty in eating.
I was a little hesitant. Is it safe to eat at night in a restaurant in an unknown city in East Africa? Anyway, at least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first. I went out saying that.
I went to Jema-al-Fana and saw that day and night are the same. Numerous shops. Arranged in a variety of things. From spices to handmade jewelry, clothes, and leather goods. Small restaurant on the side of the road. Inside seating. There are also some chairs outside. Moroccan food tradition is very old. A great combination of color and smell. Couscous is made from special wheat of North Africa. Like a little boiled rice. One of the staple foods of the Moroccan people. The meat and various curries are cooked together in a tajin-earthenware pot, on low heat, for a long time.
One dreamy thing. Countless people. From home and abroad. The song is going on in a huddle. The smell of cinnamon wafted from the small restaurant. White smoke is flying in the dim light.
The three of us entered a small restaurant. Three people finished their dinner for two thousand Bangladeshi rupees. Three terms. With tea. Not just in Marrakesh, but in all the cities of Casablanca, Ichaora, Agadi, you can easily enter the small roadside restaurant and eat at affordable prices. Extremely clean environment. Even in the small village at the top of the Atlas Mountains, there are multiple small restaurants. Numerous tourists are eating there morning-noon-night without any hesitation. All of these restaurants are small. There is no exaggeration. The inside is clean. The price is affordable. The place to eat and cook can be seen. For ten days, none of us got sick at all, even after eating from a small street shop in several Moroccan cities.
About 13 million tourists visit Morocco every year. Most of them eat at the unpretentious small restaurant on the side of the road.
In fact, the tradition and culture of a nation are associated with the practice of eating. Cooking techniques spread from generation to generation. The mixed history of assimilation of different cultures or customs. Many times foreigners, rulers, and occupiers. Take Morocco. The arrival of the Arabs in the seventh century changed the eating habits of the locals, which is still going on. The Arabs introduced the Moroccans from China, India, and Malaysia with ginger, hot spices, turmeric, and cumin.
The big hotels-restaurants serve almost the same food in all the cities of the world. The small restaurant, where the locals eat, has a lot to offer from its surroundings. A clear idea of a nation’s tastes, manners, overall cleanliness, responsibility to others, and even honesty can be found in a small restaurant in a city.
North Africa is far away from Bangladesh. See nearby countries. Food is available at affordable prices in almost all countries of Southeast Asia — Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, or Singapore in a clean environment. Long lines fall while eating at small roadside restaurants in Bangkok. These places can be eaten effortlessly without any doubt. The price is also within reach. An ordinary housewife cooks and serves food in accordance with hygiene and cleanliness. From foreign tourists to locals, most of the day’s food is eaten in these restaurants.
If the food is good, if it is not rotten, if it is cooked in a clean environment, there is nothing else to increase the crowd except the chairs and tables. But why can’t we? In all the cities of Bangladesh, big and small, getting clean restaurant food at affordable prices is a big problem. If the quality of food is good, the price is much higher. In London, for 500 to 600 Bangladeshi rupees, you can eat almost any meal in the morning, afternoon, or night. Let me tell you, the minimum hourly wage in London is about 1000 rupees. In other words, one hour’s meal can be eaten with half an hour’s earnings.
I have eaten one meal in all the continents in many cities of the world for 800 to 1000 rupees. Then why can’t we? Infrastructure, there may be some gaps in commodity prices. But the cooking environment, the quality control of food is in our hands. No matter how hard the local government agencies try, food quality cannot be improved without a change of mindset and goodwill. In other words, we speak of conquering the world. Before conquering the world, one should conquer one’s petty greed and try to feed people unadulterated food in a clean environment. It should not be forgotten that people have migrated from country to country just for food, civilization has developed.