- Tangier trip and food
Tangier, crossroad between Spain and Morocco.
In the 50’, Tangier was the interzone were nothing was forbidden. Prior to independence, Tangier was administered by several European countries, without any rigid law. Homosexuals came to Tangier where it was more relaxed and Westerners could indulge themselves in cannabis and young males in need of money. Tangier was called ‘the city of sin’. People with a past, those who wanted to change life or escape from it, artists wanting to live an affordable life in an exotic place and also Matisse and Paul Bowles who lived in Tangier for 50 years.
Like Barnaby Rogerson (author of several historical novels, travel books in North Africa) said : ‘Morocco has always been a nation where tolerance is practiced but not preached’
Still, Tangier is very Moroccan, rough, beautiful and a bit brutal.
I managed to do and to eat everything I wanted. Long days and very short nights helped to get the great feeling that I stayed 10 days at least when it was only 2.
Get lost is always the best way, narrow colorful street in the medina, smells, good and bad, a mix of seared meat, urine and sewage. Shanty called ‘Andalus’, Spanish influences and tortillas, tajine, a lot of fish, pastillas and nuts… The sweetest sweets I have ever had, made with honey, honey and honey, where the trader said to me : ‘Stay with me one week and you’ll get fat’, well… Thank you, I’ll think about it.
People who follow you in the street, want to sell you something, give you information without you asked for it or ‘provide’ you a boy for the week-end or a kiss as a souvenir (souvenir for him or for me?). But they are nice, they don’t bite, I guess they are in need of a bit of exoticism too.
Artist, expat or just tourist, whoever you are, soon or later, you will end up at Café Tingis, in le Petit Soco. Historical café that already existed in the Roman time, in the Portuguese time. Sitting down at the terrace drinking ‘thé à la menthe’ is the local sport… Oh no, they play Pakshee too, a lot, while freely smoking weed.
For lunch let’s go to ‘Saveurs de poissons’, recommended by a foodie friend. No menu, just the fishes of the day, 4 courses with nuts, harissa, a juice of fresh strawberry, raisin and fig, Moroccan style, delicious delish, simple, fresh and efficient for 200 dirham (a bit less than 20 euros).
Café Baba to follow, is heavy… Heavy heat, heavy smell of weed. The Rolling Stones sipped their tea while passing by Tangier but who cares? Since 1943 café Baba is an institution that I wanted to try. Girls smoking hashish, playing Pakshee again, boys trying to fix the tv on the wall as the football match was about to start, and me, reading’The Sheltering sky’ with a thé à la menthe, happy.
Tangier was a bit emotional for me, as my dad was born there and the coincidence was that I was there on the day of his birthday. I looked for the church ‘El Corazon de Jesus’ where he did his first communion and never found it but there was that nice and sweet atmosphere, the ocean, the white heavy sky and the time that seems to pass horizontally.