A thin strip of morning sunlight filters in between your bedroom curtains falling directly on your eyes, waking you from your sleep. Outside you can hear the beginnings of the day, the shop keepers unlocking and opening their doors, the carts of oranges and dates being wheeled down the street by peddlers, children chasing and calling out to one another. The smell of freshly baked sweet breads and pastries wafts in from below and your stomach responds with an urgent growl.
Fully awake now you let your mind wander to last night and the amazing meal you shared with the Moroccan family, your new friends, in their home in Marrakech. Sitting around their long table on soft and luxurious couches you had feasted on a bubbling tajine full of tender beef, prunes, and almonds. The pungent scents of ginger, saffron, and cinnamon rising in clouds of thick steam as the top of the tajine was lifted off and the meal was presented to the family. Ripping off pieces of the freshly made bread you used it to scoop up the stew, letting the doughy bread absorb the thick juices before raising it to your mouth. The meal had ended with dried fruits and traditional sweet Moroccan mint tea. An amazing meal, an unforgettable night.
Rising now, you dress for the new day, and head out to explore the rest of the city. Joining the now busy streets you walk down alley ways and side streets and suddenly come to something that looks bizarre and out of place and yet you can’t help but to step inside and see if it really is what it claims to be…
They say that America’s hands stretch to all corners of the Earth, sharing her foods, drinks, customs, and yes, her McDonalds. Those glorious golden arches that Americans are so used to seeing at every street corner have indeed made the leap to Morocco and, according to a native Moroccan, has settled in quite nicely.
McDonalds exist in most of the major cities of Morocco, Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, but don’t expect to step into a Moroccan McDonalds to find the same menu you’d find at your local Mickey D’s. In fact, as 19 year old Mehdi Miman attests, McDonalds has fashioned a special menu to suit Moroccan tastes, preferences, and traditions.
For Ramadan, Mehdi says, McDonalds has a special menu that includes Harira – a traditional Moroccan soup made of tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, meat, eggs, and spices – , milk, dates, as well as the Big Mac – made only with Halal meat which means it is suitable for a Muslim to eat. A Mc Arabia burger is also sold there all the year which Mehdi says is very appreciated by Moroccans for its spiced meat.
While many may feel shocked and outraged that such an American landmark has infiltrated the otherwise magical and authentic streets of Moroccan cities Mehdi claims that Moroccan McDonalds are not surrounded with the controversy that many face in other non-American countries. He says that while it is true that young children think of going to McDonalds as a special treat Moroccans realize and appreciate the restaurant’s attempt to fashion its menu to accommodate the varying tastes of the country and certainly do not think of it as a substitute for their delicious and much-loved Moroccan cuisine.