Last week, I was on holiday in Morocco! It was my very first time in this beautiful country and I must admit that I was a bit worried about eating low FODMAP in Morocco. Morocco’s national dish is Tajine, stewed beef, fish or vegetables, in a pot that is often served with couscous. A dish that Morocco is very proud of. And of course, couscous is not low FODMAP..
How I prepare for a holiday
When I go on holiday, I always do several things beforehand to prepare:
- I bring low FODMAP snacks in my luggage.
- I e-mail the hotel about my intolerances beforehand. Usually, I mention gluten, onion and garlic (gluten are not the same as FODMAPs, but hotels usually know about gluten and not about FODMAPs).
- I bring lactase pills, so I can consume lactose without problems and I bring pills against diarrhoea, in case things go totally wrong.
- When I have arrived at my destination I try to find I big supermarket, so I can stock up on low FODMAP fruits and other snacks.
We left early in the morning and the flight took a little over 3 hours. We wouldn’t arrive at the hotel before 12-1 in the afternoon and because we got up quite early, I made sure I had food for breakfast, lunch and a snack with me.
My favourite airplane lunch / breakfast are banana-egg pancakes. I baked them on the evening before we left (mash 1 banana and stir in 3 eggs, bake), put them into the fridge overnight and brought them in a plastic bag. I brought a TREK bar (these are not low FODMAP because they contain soy flour, but I react well to them. If you are looking for a low FODMAP bar, you can try the Eat Natural bars that are sweetened with maple syrup), a banana, a few rice cakes and some grapes. Another handy snack is a handful of low FODMAP nuts. For me, this was enough to get me through the first part of the day.
Eating low FODMAP in Morocco
I asked the hotel if it was possible to serve me a gluten-free breakfast. Unfortunately, they didn’t totally understand what gluten-free meant. I usually don’t say that I have to eat lactose-free because I bring my lactase pills. If they serve yoghurt at the breakfast, I can at least have that.
After we arrived at our hotel, we went to look for a supermarket. We stayed in Fez and in the city centre was a large Carrefour. I was very happy about this because Carrefour is an international supermarket and they usually have some low FODMAP products. They had rice cakes, low FODMAP salty crackers and cookies. We bought those together with some low FODMAP fruits and dark chocolate.
The lady in the hotel that served the breakfast didn’t know so well what gluten-free food was. She usually served pancakes and brioche bread at the breakfast and she didn’t know what to serve me instead. Because I bought the rice cakes, I told her that I could eat those instead of bread. Next to that, we got cream cheese, an egg, olives and sometimes yoghurt and fruit, such as bananas or oranges for breakfast. Even though, we found the breakfast choices a bit limited (there was not much to put on your bread / cracker and the amounts were quite small), there was always something I could eat and if we asked if it was possible to get an egg for breakfast the next morning, for example, this was never a problem. They were always willing to adapt something for us.
We also had dinner in the hotel once and that was a great experience. They adapted the dinner to our wishes entirely. Their speciality was, of course, tajine. I wrote a note for the cook with the ingredients that I could and couldn’t eat in French. I.e. couscous, garlic and onion. We opted for a tajine with lamb and rice instead of couscous. In the afternoon, the cook came to show me the vegetables she planned to use, to check if that was ok for me. Our dinner turned out to be a delicious rice salad with egg and low FODMAP vegetables and a tajine with lamb meat, zucchini, some green beans, olives and some beans that I didn’t know, but I took those out. For dessert, we had low FODMAP fruits.
It was a shame that I couldn’t try the sweet Moroccan desserts and cakes, but the dinner was a perfect low FODMAP meal. The hotel was also very beautiful, a Riad in traditional Moroccan decor on a very good location. If you are looking for a hotel in Fez, then I can definitely recommend to go to Riad Scalia. We gave them some feedback on the breakfast, so hopefully, they will make some adaptations there, then the hotel is totally perfect :)
Also when we went out for dinner there was always something to find that I could eat. I had the idea that tajine’s do not always contain couscous and onion or garlic (something I expected). But I suggest to always check that with the waiter before you order something. I once had a tajine with meatballs, tomato sauce and egg with rice on the side and that was fine.
Next to that, most restaurants serve simple meals that consist of for example chicken, fries and/or rice and salad. Those meals are usually low FODMAP, so I ate this several times too. Most restaurants also serve salads that are easy to make low FODMAP with a few adaptations.
As a snack, I usually ate fruit, dark chocolate or the gluten-free cookies or crackers that we bought in the supermarket. A few times I had ice cream in combination with a lactase pill.
One restaurant that I can recommend going to is Café Clock. They serve several gluten-free dishes and they know quite well how to deal with intolerances. I can also recommend Riad Scalia (the hotel we stayed in) for the dinner because they adapt it entirely to your wishes. They don’t have a real restaurant though, so I think they only serve dinner to their guests. One restaurant that I don’t recommend is la Cheminée, in the new part of Fez. FODMAP-wise I didn’t have any problems there, but it was a very old-fashioned, mushy, dirty restaurant and we didn’t have a clue where our food came from. The pizza my boyfriend ordered was brought into the restaurant in a box and then put on a plate like they prepared it themselves (!!) and the door that the waiter entered from all the time (which we assumed was the kitchen) appeared to be a door to outside. In the end, we started to doubt that they even had their own kitchen. We found a recommendation for the restaurant in a (slightly dated) travel guide, but the quality of the food was bad and the price was high for Moroccan standards, so I wouldn’t suggest going here.
Finally, it is good to mention that you have to be careful with eating raw vegetables in restaurants and that you should only drink water from bottles and not from the tap. When you are in a good restaurant, the food quality usually isn’t a problem, but in the old part of the city (the Medina) you sometimes see products that lay outside in the heat the entire day. Therefore you cannot be sure of the quality of those foods. Especially for people with sensitive stomachs, like us, it is important to be extra aware of this.
I had a great holiday with little stomach problems in a country where I expected the food to be problematic for me. So I was positively surprised!
Finally, I had to share this picture with you. We went to a forest with monkeys and we fed them bananas. So cute how they grab the pieces of banana out of your hand with their little hands!
Did you ever eat low FODMAP in Morocco? Do you have any other tips for eating low FODMAP in Morocco?