Food glorious food (part 2)
Trip Start Jun 12, 2007
129Trip End Ongoing
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We arrive at the restaurant where we are greeted by the manager, who knows Alex and Zied as they have been there before. Alex and Zied normally communicate in French and they were conversing with the manager - me and John didn't understand a word that was being said, but every so often they would all break out into laughter, which amused me immensely, particularly as Zied and the manager both had very infectious laughs. We get shown to a seating area where we are presented with small cups of milk and rosewater, followed by dates stuffed with some sort of sweet paste, which I assumed to be almond paste. Fairly quickly we get shown to our table which is right beside a body of water partially covered over with frosted glass. Alex informs me that this is where the belly dancers perform and I'm really excited that we have seats so close.
It is hard to describe how this restaurant was decorated - all I can say is that it is everything I imagine when I think about Morocco, it had great character and I was really looking forward to the evening in front of us. We are given menus, most of the dishes are made for two people, so we decide to get a seafood one and a chicken one for the four of us to share between us. Before long we are being given appetisers and glasses of champagne (fruit juices for me) on the house - the manager comes over to talk again and asks Alex and Zied to translate to English for me and John so that he can communicate with us too - it was a really friendly and inviting place to be.
The evening goes on with a natural flow - we talk to Zied and Alex about travel and life in North Africa - it was brilliant to be in like minded company. The food arrives, it's excellent, the belly dancers arrive, they are excellent, live traditional Moroccan musicians play, they are excellent, - this is an evening I will not forget as long as I live. Every now and then something happens in life, that is to be treasured like a gem - and this evening was one such occasion. The ambiance in this place was unexplainable - after dinner Zied ordered a hubba bubba/water pipe to come to our table, he said that in Tunisia, this is the way that friends socialise and relax after a meal. I hadn't seen one of these before - basically it was like a tall candlestick with a cup on top in which flavoured tobacco is placed - I believe this particular one was apple flavoured - it is covered with foil which small holes in and some hot coals are placed on top. On the bottom of the candlestick type apparatus is a vessel of water with a tube coming out with a mouthpiece on the end. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but you puff on the mouthpiece and somehow the tobacco is filtered through the water and you are able to smoke it. I am given to understand that you could smoke drugs using this, but here tonight, they were smoking flavoured tobacco. Alex and Zied share this between them and it fascinates and amuses me at the same time - I don't know why it amused me, it just did and watching Zied disappear behind clouds of smoke just had to be captured on camera. Some other tables are taking part in this too.
Did I take part? Yes, I have never smoked in my life and don't intend to start now, but I wasn't leaving this restaurant having not tried it, so I take two puffs - albeit probably two of the tiniest puffs in history!! At one point Zied points out that Alex is French, we are English, he is Tunisian, we are in Italy in a Moroccan restaurant, it makes us laugh initially but Zied said there was something great about that. The more I thought about it, the more the statement touched me - it is wonderful to be born in a time where this can happen - in days gone by, this would NOT have been possible, certainly for everyday folk like us - they rarely even travelled within their own country and then once more I am reminded of the people that don't have any curiousity and are still prepared to accept just that - even in a world of such opportunity. It is at this moment that I am reminded that the very people that have been saying that I am crazy all week, are indeed the crazy ones - I wouldn't have missed today and tonight for anything.
Its now getting close to 1am and having been up for 22 hours we are starting to flag. Alex calls a taxi and we leave the restaurant happy and contented. Fantastic.
Just as a side note - we had been in the restaurant probably an hour or so when Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Patrick Vieira walked in and were shown to a nearby table - this meant absolutely nothing to me as I didn't have a clue who they were. Apparently they are famous in football and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Alex's idol, so she spent the evening swooning each time he walked past, which made us laugh.
We arrive back at the hotel and get into bed around 1.30am and as soon as our heads hit the pillow we are asleep - sweet, happy dreams.