Untrapped: Marrakesh With Jamie Oliver

By: Sara Levine

So far on Jamie’s Food Escapes, Jamie Oliver has tackled Europe, making stops in Italy, Greece, France, Spain and Sweden. Now he’s venturing a little further from home to explore the enchanting Moroccan city of Marrakesh.

“It feels like going back in time,” Jamie says as he makes his way through the narrow alleys and vibrant outdoor bazaars, “and going back in time in the food world ain’t a bad thing.” He finds amazing food with a mix of influences from the French, who colonized Morocco, the nomadic Berbers, and the native Arabs: “That is a beautiful cocktail.”

He’s lucky enough to join a family for some Moroccan home cooking outside in their courtyard, where he gets some tips on how to eat lamb and couscous with his hands. Then he ventures off to try his own versions of authentic dishes like tagines, slow-roasted lamb and “snakey cake” made from long coils of phyllo dough.

In the market, Jamie finds all the spices essential to Moroccan flavors: turmeric, cumin, paprika and the spice mix ras el hanout. He brings them back to an outdoor terrace overlooking the gorgeous Atlas mountains, where he prepares two tagines. “I like to think of a tagine as a sort of stew with attitude,” he says.

Jamie’s out to prove that you don’t need to buy an actual tagine — a clay cooking vessel — to achieve amazing flavors. He cooks his beef tagine with chickpeas and prunes the authentic way, but uses a regular old pot for a chicken tagine infused with saffron and preserved lemon.

After all that meat, Jamie is ready for some fish. He roasts a whole dorade, but explains that any whole fish with a nice cavity would work just fine. He’s seen similar preparations a lot in Morocco and decides to put his own spin on it with a stuffing of vermicelli noodles and shrimp spiced with harissa and sweet paprika. The spices go on the outside of the fish, too — like a barbecue rub — which gives the final product a beautiful color and tons of flavor.

“Now that is a celebration of a fish,” Jamie says as he serves himself a plate. “That, my friends, is a great showstopper of a dish.”

Jamie’s final stop on his two-day whirlwind tour is a night bazaar, where everyone seems to know him — one food stall even shows him his own picture on their menu. Never a jaded traveler, Jamie is amazed: “What a culture. The people…incredible. The food they’re doing here completely blew me away. To step out of my world into this world…what a shock and what a pleasure.”

Catch this episode of Jamie’s Food Escapes tonight at 8pm/7c.

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