Among the chaos of the Fes medina’s winding pedestrian walkways, street vendors slice and sear sausage-like entities that appear kindred to massive haggises.
They’re preparing pieces of spleen, stuffed taut with ground meat, spices, olives, and preserved lemon. These bulging loaves—which easily run more than a foot in length—sit alongside the griddle, set in a huge metal tray out in the open air. The offal casing is a camel’s spleen, called tehal, and the filling can contain a medley of camel, cow, and lamb meat. (Vendors offer the same fillings stuffed in a cow’s spleen, as well.) Traditionally, cooks prebake the filled log into a deep, dark shade using one of Morocco’s many communal bread ovens, then fry it to order.
Medina vendors take rapid-fire requests, scrambling the stuffed spleen with herbs, vegetables, and sometimes (if you ask nicely) an egg in about a minute. Then, they’ll scoop the mixture into open pockets of batbout, a type of Moroccan pita bread. This street fare is no novelty: Working locals line up to grab a quick lunch of savory, creamy meat crammed into fresh, floury breads every day. And the meal never runs more than 12 dirham, or a little more than $1.
Need to Know
If you're interested in trying spleen, but don't want to get the offal casing, try asking for the "mix-mix." You'll receive a hodgepodge of all the meats on offer from a vendor, chopped up and seared together on the griddle. Before serving you the finished dish, the chef will inquire about spicy sauce. They know how to wield the bottle with a delicate hand, but it doesn't mean they will.
Where to Try It
Fes el BaliTalaa Segira, Fes, Morocco
Look for vendors frying slices of this deep-hued spleen log on Talaa K’bira or Talaa Segira, both pedestrian streets within the old city's walls.