Tucked into the southeast corner of the Grand Souk, the diminutive Spice Souk (now signed “Herbs Market”) is perhaps the most atmospheric – and certainly the most fragrant – of the city’s many bazaars. Run almost exclusively by Iranian traders, the shops here stock a wide variety of culinary, medicinal and cosmetic products, with tubs of merchandise set out in front of each tiny shopfront. All the usual spices can be found – cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander – along with more unusual offerings such as dried cucumbers and lemons (a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine), incense and heaps of hibiscus and rose petals, used to make a delicately scented tea. The souk is also famous for its frankincense, sold in various different forms and grades – the most common type looks like a kind of reddish, crumbling crystalline rock; frankincense burners can be bought in the souk for a few dirhams. Most stalls also sell natural cosmetic products such as pumice and alum, a clear rock crystal used to soothe the skin after shaving. Male visitors in search of a pick-me-up will also find plentiful supplies of so-called “natural viagra”.
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