In the most unassuming places, far from the tourist trails and orange juice stands of Jemaa el Fna, you’ll find bustling fruit juice stands dotting the busy roads where locals stop to refresh on their jaunts throughout the medina. Nothing fancy, but a juice packed with vitamins. And, OK, a bit of sugar. It is Morocco after all and the drinks here are sweet. In our latest blog post, we introduce readers to another popular drink made with fruits from the nearby Souss Valley away from the orange juice. And it’s not mint tea.
The small towns of Aourir and Tamraght are located along the west coast of Morocco in the Souss Valley. With banana groves lining each side of the Tamraght River, the two towns have become collectively known as Banana Village amongst locals and travelers in the know. Clusters of bananas hang from the shops that dot the small, one-road town where shopkeepers sell one thing and one thing only – bananas.
With all this fresh produce just minutes from the southern town of Agadir, it’s no wonder that banana juice is a popular drink at local juice shops and as an accompaniment to an afternoon cake at the local patisserie. Blended with equal parts banana and milk and sweetened with sugar (Moroccans love sweetened drinks), the drink is packed with nutrients for those hot Marrakech days.
But don’t think one has to go to a fancy café to indulge in such a delicious beverage. Unlike the orange juice stands in Jemaa el Fna calling out to passers-by, the owners at these stalls are busily working away in unassuming juice shops and serving those in the know.
Head down the little alleyways leading away from Jemaa el Fna in Marrakech, and when you see locals lining up with a beer stein of juice, you will know you’ve found the place. A counter lined with plastic jugs, each with a different ingredient and quite likely an older gentleman serving the masses is what you’re looking for. Pink jugs for strawberry, green for avocado, a brownish mixture for the banana and another jug for whatever other fruits may be in season. Pick one or two ingredients together, and the fruits create a puree known as the panache – but the banana juice is always the star of the show.
Pureed in a blender, a banana juice on its own in a fancier establishment may be flavored with rose water or orange blossom water for added sweetness. Other variations may include banana and avocado. Just remember, the more upscale the restaurant, the higher the prices for this Moroccan staple drink.
At a local juice counter in the medina – in particular on Derb Dabachi – expect to pay about 10 Moroccan Dirhams for one glass. More tourist-oriented juice shops dotted around throughout the medina may charge up to 20 Moroccan Dirhams, while for somewhere fancier in the new town expect to pay up to 35 Moroccan Dirhams for a fresh juice. But for the true foodies with a sophisticated palate, it’s worth the price.