I have been a lover of lamb ever since my father roasted one on a spit for my 12th birthday. Reading about food before my trip to Morocco, I learned that there is a Marrakech alley where lamb is slow-roasted daily. I couldn’t wait to try it.
For our first lunch, we set out to find the alleyway, which was not marked on our map. All we knew was that it was located off the northern corner of Djemaa-el-Fenn square. Navigating around the shop-owners, citrus sellers, and snake charmers without Wi-Fi, I was beginning to lose hope until I spotted a row of severed lambs’ heads around a corner. Mechoi (or lamb) Alley only consists of 5 or 6 stands, so it can be easy to miss.
Men in white lab coats manned the stands, offering us samples of lamb sitting on proof paper as we passed. We decided to eat at Chez Lamine Hadj Mustapha, a few stalls down.
After taking our seats, the waiter Mohammed sat down at our table and made us a detailed diagram of what we were about to consume on a paper napkin. We ordered half a kilo of lamb, and instead of using the sink in the eating area to wash our hands, I sheepishly used my hand sanitizer.
First came a side of bread, and then came the main attraction. The lamb was served on paper, without cutlery. I picked a glistening piece of rib, my favorite part. The meat was so tender it fell off the little bone. The skin had a soft crispiness. The rest of my bites tasted even better with a sprinkling of salt and cumin. We ate with our hands, lapping up the extra greasy pieces with bread, and topped it off with Moroccan whiskey, or mint tea.
Before we payed the inexpensive bill, Mohammed proudly showed us the underground ovens, actual holes in the ground, where the entire lamb is cooked over hot wood ash each morning for about 5 hours. He also told us that Mustapha cooked for the King.
He invited us to come back tomorrow by noon for better cuts of meat. Although we didn’t manage, I plan to come back to the alley of the lambs next time I’m in town.