Every country has its own eating culture. What you see in London, you will never find in Rome. What you love in Oslo, you would barely get in Lisbon. But I love so much this idea when usually everything is so different and unique. And here I am speaking not about the type or taste of food, but about the tradition, how this service is being offered for the customers.
The last huge impression I faced with was in Meknes, a small Moroccan town, located half an hour by train from Fes. During the lunchtime we decided to eat comfortably in a nice local restaurant, so followed some recommendations. When we arrived at the place, it seemed closed: absolute silence, no people, no smell of food. But after some knockings, doors opened and woman warmly invited us inside: “It’s opened”.
When we got there, a strange environment met us: it was home, it was the real home. Seems that woman, who opened us the door, and a man, who we saw eating at the table, were both living there. When we entered, he stood up, greeted us and accompanied to our table in the last room with very dim light. Interior of it was very traditionally decorated, not like other spaces around, what gave for the atmosphere additional charm. By the way, we were the only guests of this restaurant-home.
Very quickly menu appeared on our tables: “But you will need to wait for food longer because we start preparing it only after ordering”. Prices there were very European, I should say, like in Florence, or – at least ten times more expensive than in regular Moroccan restaurants. But tell me, who thinks about prices at the moment of hunger and tiredness? Our eyes saw “couscous” and stomachs reminded about their emptiness.
“When woman prepares food in our country, quality of it is much better. Men do not care that much about hygienic aspects” – I remembered what once one local told us in the street. So seems that in this restaurant-home we got into good hands because our dishes were prepared by the female chef, the same one, who opened us doors.
While we were waiting for the meals, decided to check out the place more and moved towards the bathroom. Toothbrushes and toothpaste which we found there – one more proof about this place as restaurant-where-people-really-live.
After nearly an hour of waiting, the food finally came on our table: local bread, yellowish soup possibly with semolina, couscous with onions, raisins and nuts and traditional Moroccan mint tea. I love tasting out local cuisines in different countries, but more than that I love when food doesn’t disappoint. And this lunch in Meknes was simply fantastic. Great food and memorable traditional atmosphere in the real somebody’s home – what else to want more?
Last chord was when on our way out from this restaurant-home we saw a man-of-the-house-who-before-appeared-as-waiter sleeping of the sofa next to the exit.
So, to sum up, we didn’t find there anything in common with restaurants in European standards. Simply food and hygiene inspection would not allow that… But impression which I got there, containing perfect taste of food and unique ambient, I will definitely remember all the rest of my life.