Dinner in Fes

I was just leaving the Riad in search for dinner when I heard my name. My guide Hamid had just been stepping out as well with his friend Mouhad. He told me that they were on the way to see a friend and afterwards we could go for dinner and even try to find a place for a beer.
While I am writing this I am still at the friends place, so things have turned out differently. We drove about 10 min from the hotel and came to a more residential area. There are actually not a lot of street lights around, so one has to know the way. They had to make a phone call first to get directions for the apartment, but we finally made it.
We were welcomed by three kids of different age, ranging from 3 to 12. A woman was heard in the kitchen but not to be seen. We entered the leaving room, a quite large rectangular room with cushioned benches on all sides. I think there are at least 35-40 seats. Also three round tables. The three of us sat down, and after 5 minutes I was told to go and say hello to the women in the kitchen.
The women turned out to be one girl around 20. She was one of daughters of the house, married and here for a visit. Her little son, maybe around 3, played in the living room with his pink gun. His father who later showed up as well, turned out to be a younger version of Bin Laden.
The friend finally showed up and turned out to be quite an old man, especially compared to the young daughter in the kitchen. I haven’t seen his wife, but there must be one cause I think in total there were 4 or 5 other kids.
So around 30 minutes later, after quite a few Bin Laden jokes made in English to keep me happy, the obligatory sugared tea arrives. And with it some nuts. What I found hilarious was that it was not a small bowl but more like a huge plate. Take a look.

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So for the next thirty minutes sweet tea and nuts kept me busy. But after a while all the Arabic was too much for me, no English or French conversation at this table, no matter that not everybody could follow. So I told Hamid that I was sorry, but really bored and that I wanted to go. No way!
He told me that we had been invited for dinner and couldn’t leave anymore. So I started to read, also not very friendly but on the same politeness level as the Arabic conversation.
And the finally dinner arrived. Lots of small platters with tomato and cucumber salad, potato and carrot salad, green pepper and tomato stew, something with pumpkin, olives in chili and herbs, and lots of bread. The moment everything was on the table the feeding began. And I am using this word on purpose. The host had left the table again to get something from the kitchen and everyone started to eat. My asking to wait for the host was met with a kind of stare and basically a question mark in the face. So I ate with my teaspoon and tried to scoop the excellent food on my bread.
In the meantime the host returned with a big platter of lamb and fries. Cooked to perfection, the meat was falling off the bones.
10 minutes later the feeding frenzy was over. The men cleaned the table and the host brought in a big platter of fresh fruits. I just had time to eat a clementine and the we left.
What an evening, I am really glad I had the chance to go there. A very interesting insight in family life in Morocco. Sure, not all families are like this. But was told that they are open minded and tolerant. Btw, the woman never left the kitchen. She just provided the food for the men. The food was lovely, for sure the best meal I had so far on this trip.
Any chance you get invited to a family dinner, take it!
Yours, Pollybert

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