Top 10 Culinary Vacations in Africa and the Middle East
The bargaining and crowds make food shopping in this part of the world an experience in itself before any of the exotic grains or intense flavors even get in your mouth. The only drawback is that anything you buy might have been pawed over by thousands before you so wash everything carefully before you eat or cook.
- Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech, Morocco
The nightly open-air market that takes place here after dusk is possibly the greatest in the world. Stalls set up under gaslights and the air becomes thick and hazy with the scent of barbecuing meats and seafood. White clothed chefs call to attract potential customers to their combinations of seafood, chips, salad, kebabs, barbecued meats, eggplant, olives, chili, bread and mint tea.
- Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey
No visit to Istanbul is complete without a visit to the spice markets with their piles of heaped saffron, cumin, sumac, apple tea and Turkish delights.
- Mbare Musika Market, Harare, Zimbabwe
You can find just about anything in this market from herbs for medicinal and culinary uses, vegetable or fruit produce and fresh meats. Bargain hard so you don’t get murungu (white person) prices and always ask for a banzela (free gift).
- Khan Al-Khalili, Cairo, Egypt
Grab a coffee, a pancake, roasted birds or follow your nose to any of the street vendors or restaurants in or around Cairo’s most famous bazaar. Cairo is not renowned for its food but the atmosphere of the area makes up for it, besides you’ll need the sustenance after shopping through this souq full of gold, silver, copper, perfume, spices and cloth.
- Kejetia Market, Kumasi, Ghana.
Reputed to be the largest market in West Africa with some 15,000 traders operating in an area of 12 hectares. It’s not aimed at tourists so you’ll see a lot of food and products you would not otherwise.
- Merkato, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This market covers several square miles and employs 13,000 people in 7,100 businesses. The primary merchandise here is locally grown agricultural products like grains, pulse, oilseeds and vegetables. Coffee is the biggest product and at busy times a daily coffee auction is held with nearly 100 growers offering 150 beans for sale to about 50 international buyers.
- Wuse market, Abuja, Nigeria
Get in touch with Abuja’s food culture at this market. Like many African markets it provides a genuine glimpse of local life and is inexpensive. The market sells everything from fruits to grains and vegetables. There are Nigerian staples like yam, cassava and rice and if you don’t mind the hygiene standards try the street food like pepe soup (made from ground chili peppers with meat, fish and vegetables) or the barbecue chicken cooked on a drum.
- Central market, Tunis, Tunisia
This is the largest food and vegetable market in Tunisia with fresh produce all year round. Go early to get the best of its color and atmosphere.
- The Shuk, Old Jerusalem, Israel
The pace is fast and the crowds are heavy in this outdoor market place in Jerusalem. There are fruits and vegetables on sale but also butchers, bakers, nut and grain sellers, cheese and dairy shops, spice merchants and fast food vendors. Vendors yell prices at the tops of their voices and there’s no shortage of beggars either.
- Makola Market, Accra, Ghana
A big, busy and colorful market run by women sitting under straw hats behind piles of tomatoes, yams, beans, plantains, peanuts and rice and basins of dried fish or meat.