A Fearless Guide to Food and Travel

How to Buy A Shark in Morocco How to Buy A Shark in Morocco

After MarocBaba and I were engaged we took a trip for a few days to Essaouira, a few hours from Marrakech, to spend some time together.  When we went to Morocco this past fall we went to Essaouira again.  It was almost 7 years from our first visit.  We never took a honeymoon and the vacation to Morocco was the first time we both were away from the kids for longer than a week.  The whole trip was special for us but going back to Essaouira was something we both really looked forward to.  Over the next two weeks my posts will be all about Essaouira.  The food, the experiences and a lot of pictures.  On Friday and Sunday I will continue to post my series posts (favorite female food bloggers and get real challenge).

In late November I wrote a post about a wonderful lunch we had in the port. On our first visit we skipped out on a lot of the activities related to fishing due to my aversion to all things seafood.  This time however we were fully immersed.  Generally in Morocco I try to blend in and not seem like the foreigner.  I want to be a part of the culture and experience it from the inside.  But being in the port I gave up.  I carried my camera on my neck and looked around soaking up the experience. We saw very few tourists and many locals purchasing fish and seafood off of the boats.  One scenario that unfolded was this;

shark man essaouira morocco

Can you guess what he’s holding?

Just as we were buying some shrimp I turned around and almost bumped into this man.  He had just returned from a morning in the water.  The day was very overcast and most fishermen were not going out because of high waves.  However, this veteran of the sea had gone out.  Before I could see what he was holding I saw his face, well worn with the wind of the sea, browned by the Moroccan sun.  His eyes were deep having looked into the waves, across the horizon for many many years.  It seemed, as is the case with many older gentlemen, a tear remained continually in the crease of his eye.  He was a man who had felt life the width and breadth of it.  And he was here to make a deal.

My eyes followed his arm and saw in his hand he grasped the tail of a ….shark.  It was my first time seeing a dead shark.  I let out an audible gasp realizing he had actually caught that..thing. It hadn’t crossed my mind that sharks might inhabit the waters but why wouldn’t they?  Most likely he had gone out alone in a boat and brought in this haul, just enough to get a meal on the table and care for his family.  Mskin.  A small bull shark (I believe) that brought a crowd of people almost immediately.  I don’t know the first thing about cooking a shark and have never come across shark in Moroccan recipes.

As in most transactions the price was high (not as high as I thought it might be) and many men chimed in to offer their best price.  But the man was firm in his price.  Secretly I was hoping he’d go higher.  This was quite a catch – I wanted him to go home with a hefty wallet.  We listened as the numbers flew.  Mia,  Mia arbain, higher and higher.  Finally it was sold.  170 dirham…about $20.  For a whole shark.  Mabrook sidi, mabrook.

Man selling a shark in Essaouira Morocco makes a deal


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Amanda Mouttaki

Curious world traveling, mom of two busy boys, foodie at heart, addicted to social media and lover of all things Moroccan.

  • Taryn

    July 23, 2013 #1 Author

    Hello! It’s so funny how much your story mirrors mine…or maybe since you’ve been together longer than my husband and I have, my story mirrors yours. :)

    I met my husband when I was on vacation in Morocco and romance was the LAST thing on my mind, My husband is actually from Essaouira and that’s where I’ve spent most of my time when visiting. Actually, I recognize the man selling the shark in your pictures above from seeing him at the port!

    It’s been great to read about your experiences especially since I can relate to so many of them. I, too, went on my first trip back to Morocco after only spending a very short time with Hicham and took a long solo flight to Marrakech and stood in the forever-long passport line and held my breath as I went out to meet him not really knowing what the next week would bring. I was nervous about staying with his family, but I needn’t have been as they are the most lovely, kind people you’d ever like to meet. I could go on and on (my husband LOVES b’ssara, my favorite thing by far in the Essaouira medina is the olive stall, everyone here thinking that Hicham was pursuing me so he could get a green card…I’ve even lost a significant amount of weight over the past few years and understand the ups and downs of that whole process)

    We’ve been married for two years now and I often think about whether we could swing moving to Morocco as your family is doing. Actually, I think the ideal situation would be to split our time between the two countries, but that’s not very doable. The main thing that keeps us here is my family–I’m the only child my parents have (after losing my only sibling in a tragic accident when we were young) and they would be devastated if I moved to another country.

    I have sincerely enjoyed reading your stories and thank you for sharing. I eagerly await reading about your life as you move and experience living in–not just visiting–Morocco.

    I’ve been reading for a while and hadn’t commented, but when I recognized the shark fisherman, I had to chime in!


    • Amanda Mouttaki

      July 24, 2013 #2 Author

      Thank you so much for sharing this story with me. I love hearing about other couples, especially those who have had similar experiences!


  • Joèl

    February 7, 2012 #3 Author

    I have seen those sharks for sale, too! I love how you call it that “thing”. lol. Not attractive little critters are they?


    • marocmama

      February 7, 2012 #4 Author

      I was so taken aback – had never been that close to a shark out of water.


  • Blanca In Spain

    January 9, 2012 #5 Author

    Ooh how I miss being in Morocco when I read your post. Mash allah, loved reading it! A part of my heart will always be magrebhi. I haven’t visited Essauira yet though, but I hope I can go there some day soon, it’s not very far from where I live (south of Spain). B’slema!


    • marocmama

      January 10, 2012 #6 Author

      That’s such a compliment – I really appreciate it!


  • Graham Chapple

    January 9, 2012 #7 Author

    Great blog post – Essaouira is a very special place for us too – My wife and I spent her 40th birthday with some friends quad biking most of the day in the dunes and on the beach to the west, then went for a great meal in the harbour.

    I always tell people to go to Essaouira – it takes 3 hours from Agadir but it is a beautiful trip up the coast. The shopping is good and no hassle and allows you to properly look about – the people are friendly and want to engage with you.

    Keep writing the posts – check ours out on as well – covers all things Moroccan

    Best regards Graham


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