Travelling to Morocco comes with a lot of pros and cons, especially if you have a sensitive stomach. Although Moroccan cuisine is one of the finest in the world – with popular dishes like tajine, couscous or zaalouk, that are absolutely delicious – this North African country also has some foods and drinks that one should, preferably, avoid.
If you aren’t a fan of going out of your comfort zone when it comes to food, you better steer clear of the snails. Snails are cooked, have spices added to them and are served in small, traditional bowls with the water they were cooked in. It might sound tempting but if you’re unfamiliar with such dishes, it might not be a risk worth taking.
When it comes to Morocco, tap water is something people discuss a lot. It’s generally harmless for locals, but if you’re from another country, opt for bottled water, as you don’t know how your body might react to the different bacteria found in the local tap water.
Often when walking down the street in Morocco you’ll spot a nice cart full of traditional cookies. Although people do purchase them, it would be better to stay away, as they’ve been exposed to the sun, maybe for days, and their quality isn’t as good as those found in actual bakeries.
Snacks in Morocco are small food stores where you can buy a sandwich, chips and a beverage. These ‘fast foods’ are quite popular among young locals. However, if you’re coming from abroad, you can’t know for sure how the sandwich has been made and if the meat is fresh.
You will most likely see these in Marrakesh, where many street food vendors gather near Jemaa el-Fna to offer tourists fried fish or a barbecue. Again, these carts might not have been properly checked for food safety and hygiene – so if possible, walk by without being tempted by the smell.
Locally known as sfenj, Moroccan donuts are fried in oil that may or may not be fresh. That’s why it’s better to avoid fried foods such as sfenj, and even churros. Donuts shops can be located on almost any street, and you’ll quickly spot them from the smell of oil and people coming and going with donuts in hand.
Don’t worry, not all fruit and vegetables are out of bounds, because in Morocco they are actually very tasty. The only reason produce is on this list is because you must make sure it has been peeled, washed or cooked before consumption. This is just to avoid any bacteria you wouldn’t want in your system.
Sometimes, even in the safest places you would think to shop at, like Carrefour, you must be careful and check the expiration date of products and canned goods. Although expired products are not a recurrent event, it is better to be safe than sorry!
Buffets always sound like a good idea – that is if the food hasn’t been sitting exposed to the heat for hours. In such cases, buffets are not advised, as your stomach may not be used to the sanitary conditions of the restaurant and you might end up getting food poisoning.
Salad may not be properly washed and could contain pathogens that might lead to E. Coli infection. For this reason it is advised to leave out the salad from any sandwiches or sides, to avoid potential food poisoning.
Sometimes the tiniest thing can make you ill, like mayonnaise, ketchup or other condiments you find in restaurants. Some of these products might not have been stored in a cool area, which could produce bacteria and be damaging to your stomach.