So for those of you who have only had the experience of shopping at your local supermarket- let me say the Souq aka Market is a whole new world of shopping.
If you have shopped at a farmer’s market – the Souq is the farmers market on steroids with the added benefit of being able to bargain on the prices of items.
Depending on where you live in Morocco – there can be either a Souq town – which is a large town or medium city that the surrounding agriculture areas bring their produce into sell at once a week or if you live in a larger city such as Fez you might have an area where there is a daily souq.
In the souq, you have ten to twenty vendors selling the same thing – and you can choose to shop Moroccan style – which can take two or more hours or you can do it American style – find a vendor selling want you want – and check the quality is good then purchase it – which takes about 20 -30 minutes.
Obviously, I don’t purchase item regardless of the quality but still – I don’t enjoy spending hours searching for the perfect tomato at the perfect price and some Moroccan’s do enjoy this. I have found the souq is an awesome place for color inspirations, finding different kinds of veggies that aren’t found in the US – like the fuzzy zucchini and just enjoying the Moroccan people as they go about their daily lives. I also enjoy the challenge of bargaining with the vendors.
I know I most likely don’t end up with the best price all the time due to the fact my Darija is at a low level but still its always great for a cultural exchange. Once you get to know your vendors you know who has the better quality and is willing to bargain honestly with you to the point that you only will shop with them. Vendors will also figure out that you’re a local and your going to be around for a while and give you a better price as well.
It’s also ok to walk away from a vendor who is unwilling to bargain or one who is quoting outrageous prices. I have walked away and sometimes then the vendor trys to call you back and offer a better price but not always – it really depends on the person.
In the souq, you can also purchase your meat – which is still is usually alive when you purchase it based on its weight with the exception of beef which you would purchase straight from the “butcher” stand already cut up into different parts. Meat purchasing tip- It’s cheaper to purchase your chicken or turkeys live and then have them kill it and de feather it – you still have to finish cleaning it once you get it home. When you purchase beef – purchase a cut not any pre ground meat – then ask them to mince it to ensure you are getting good quality meat.
Yes you can if you want watch the chicken and turkey guy – say Bismillah and chop the head off your soon to be dinner or like me – you place order and walk away to finish your shopping so you don’t have to see the death of your dinner or lunch as the case maybe to return and pick up the still warm body. Anything in the souq is an item you can bargain on from used clothing to household items.
However if the item is in a physical store outside of the souq you can still try and bargain and you should since Moroccans do – although some items have fixed prices such as tea, sugar, flour etc. The souq is one of the rare places in Morocco you will find men and women mixing in and effort to purchase their food for the week. So if you do one thing during your travels in Morocco – I think it should be going to a souq.