How to Buy Meat in Morocco

Meat hooks at a butcher.

Meat hooks at a butcher. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The local butcher has a shop just down the street.  His tactics for increasing sales are obvious—and appear to be working.  On the outside door to the shop hangs a cow head.  Every day, a cow head will be there.  It’ll look very much alive except for the vacancy in its eyes and the tongue hanging slightly out of its mouth.  This the butcher’s way of telling his customers that this meat is fresh.

The rest of the cow hangs behind the butcher.  You walk into his store and ask for a certain number of kilos.  The butcher will go to the dead cow and cut off a slab for you—nice and fresh.  He’ll weigh it.  Once he has the right amount, he’ll grind the meat up for you right there.  He puts the slab in the top of the grinder.  Out the side comes ground meat.  This cow won’t even be 24 hours dead by the time his meat is in your stomach.

But that is nothing compared to the chicken vender.  I have only gone once.  With my remaining 700 days in Morocco, I have no intention of returning.  For one thing, I don’t like chicken very much.  For another, I prefer not to see my meal slaughtered.  The chicken vender has a simple setup.  You walk up to his window and ask for a certain number of kilos.  He will walk to the back of his store, where ten chickens are in a pen.

These chickens are always hiding in a corner.  They are able to see what happens to the chickens that get “picked.”  They push each other to hide in the furthest corner, not wanting to die.  The chicken vender picks out a chicken for you and brings it up to the window.  He weighs the live chicken right in front of you.  If the weight is correct, he puts the chicken on the ground, holds its head upward, and cuts its throat.  The chickens in the pen huddle closer together.

After that, the chicken is sent through a defeathering machine.  After a few minutes, you have your meat ready.  The one night that I witnessed this, we ate chicken.  It’s strange to think that the meat you are eating was alive just a couple hours ago—trying not to be the winner of some reaping.  But that’s how it works here.

In America, we hide the process of killing.  When we go to buy our meals for the day, we see processed meat, not living animals.  It makes it easier for us to stomach.  As for me, I’m tending towards the side of America.  Once I’m on my own and cooking on my own…I can’t see myself buying meat.  I don’t know how to be a vegetarian…but I may have to figure it out.

It’s that or learn how to be okay with reaping a chicken every few nights.

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