As soon as we sit down, tea is served. The dance is the same in every place we visit on the trail. Someone brings in a tray with a heavy silver pot, small glasses and some extra sugar - drinking unsweetened tea is unheard of in Morocco. The tea is skilfully poured from a height, creating a foamy head on the steaming brew. We can now enjoy the country's national drink, whiskey berbère, while waiting for the food to arrive.
The three-day trek from Imlil to Setti Fadma takes us through mountain passes, valleys and small villages, including Taccheddirt, the loftiest village in the High Atlas Mountains and where we spend our first night. While the trail seems somewhat remote and desolate, especially in cold November, there are gîtes d'étape (cottage stopover), small mountain refuges and people's houses where you can take a break, have something to eat and drink numerous glasses of sweet mint tea.
For dinner, tajine is usually the only option in the mountains. Served with khubz (traditional bread baked in a clay oven) and fragrant with spices (cumin, harissa and ras-el-hanout) it's a perfect meal after a strenuous day of walking. Breakfast is sweet and simple: more bread or local pancakes (msemen), homemade jams, honey, butter and eggs. In Imlil, there are street-food stalls, serving warming harira (hearty soup made with lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes and sometimes lamb) and simple sandwiches filled with grilled meat, egg and vegetables. Higher up in the mountains, we feast on salade marocaine (typically made with finely diced tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and herbs) and Berber omelette, cooked with tomatoes.
Savouring the stunning views from Tizi n' Tamatert pass with a glass of hot tea isn hand was one of my favourite Moroccan experiences.