By WILL MATSUDA
RABAT, Morocco – A mild winter lingers in Morocco and in the streets of the old medinas, locals can be found huddling around steaming vats of snail soup. The soup is called “bebouch” in Morocco’s Arabic dialect. The soup is so popular that Abderrahim Idriss has been making a living off of selling bebouch for 25 years.
Idriss owns a snail soup stall on one of the main streets in the old medina of Rabat. As the medina closed down for the night and the last shoppers hurried home, he sipped his batch.
Pointing to his chest, Idriss proclaimed, “The soup makes me warm!”
Bebouch is popular year round, especially during the winter.
Idriss’ stall table was littered with discarded snail shells. Using toothpicks, customers plucked the snails from their shells and tossed the shells aside. The clicking of shells hitting the table echoed the light rain that was falling.
Bebouch is a common street food across Morocco. It’s inexpensive, costing 5-10 MAD ($.6-1.20) for a serving, which includes a bowl of broth and a bowl of snails.
The snails taste as one might expect: earthy and dark. The texture is chewy and slightly slimy. The soup broth is a concoction of 15 different spices including thyme, aniseed and licorice root. Every gulp of broth ignites the back of the throat with a tingly sensation. Moroccans claim it’s an effective treatment for a sore throat.
A sizable mountain of snail shells remained on Idriss’ table at the end of the night. As he packed up his cart and wheeled it off, the shells began to slide off, leaving a recognizable trail, somewhat like a snail.