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at the hanout

30 June, 2011

The other day, I was Skyping with a friend when I mentioned something about the hanout downstairs.  She was not familiar with the term, so I spent a good five minutes telling her all about the wonderful world of hanouts.

A hanout is a small shop.  Typically, at least near me, you walk up to the counter, exchange greetings with the mul d’hanout (shop keeper) and then tell him what you want.  Most hanouts here are about the size of a one car garage and offer things similar to what a convenience store back home might have.

I am lucky in that I live above a hanout.  I visit probably 5-6 days a week and purchase things like: cooking oil, eggs, toilet paper, soda (glass 1.5 liter bottle for 6 dirhams, or about $0.75 US), and my beloved Biggy candy bars.  You can also get things like diapers, soap, rounds of bread and yogurt, but usually not fresh produce, meat or bulk dry goods.

For my other shopping needs, I head to the souk to load up on fresh fruits and veggies (usually stall #13 because the father & son shop keepers are particularly nice) or another stall for bulk chickpeas, lentils and pasta.  Spices are at yet another stall, and same goes for fresh herbs like mint, parsley and cilantro.

Errachidia does not have a grocery store as I am used to them.  Some would argue that the supermarche is a grocery store, but its really just a glorified hanout that happens to have some fruits & veggies out front.  The mul d’hanout there is really nice, but the lack of variety offered means I’m more likely to shop somewhere that is not a 30 minute walk from my apartment.

I used to be intimidated by the whole ‘shopping at the hanout’ experience, partly due to my lack of language skills, and partly because the idea of going up to the counter (where there are often a few men just hanging out) and needing to ask for each item you want was uncomfortable for me.  I’m schwiya antisocial at times, and loved being able to wiz through a store back home and take the items for purchase to the self-check lane and scan them myself; I did not have to interact with humans at all if I was not feeling like it.  That is definitely not an option here, but I’ve come to enjoy the experience of shopping for day-to-day items at my local hanouts.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. The Mother permalink
    30 June, 2011 02:01

    And I must add, when I visited Tracy last February, she and I went to the supermarche. They had the most delicious pastries. Of course we had to purchase some. I managed to find several cans of cat food much to Tracy’s surprise. Tracy now tells me whenever she shops there, the shopkeeper asks, “where is your mother and how is she doing?” In Arabic, of course. 🙂

  2. 2 January, 2013 05:50

    Sounds quite unnerving! I hate it in Poland when I have to search for a vocabulary. Portugal though, doesn’t seem so intimidating. My problem is always mixing the languages. Thanks for your visit and happy 2013.

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