Points of business:
I am not in possession of my laptop for a few days, as Q says, “A writer is either out having adventures or writing about them.” I am at present – having one. (see the woman smile wickedly) Theretofore I am posting an adventure from some time ago in Fes.
Second point: in answer to one of the comments from my lovely readers: I have abandoned none of my regular reads but I am unable to come by except occasionally for the past and next month. While I was away my Internet was cut off and bureaucracy here is a raging river of unending branches that send you off to the desolate land of “Quoi?” It may be some time before I have home Internet service again as I will be in and out of the country, so I only have a connection for an hour or so every other day at my office. I will be back, seeing what you are all up to and writing about when I can.
If you are lacking physical affection or the feeling of being valued in your life, which according to many studies will actually prolong your life, come to Morocco.
An excellent example of the unsolicited affection and general feeling of “ah..”, is my lunch in Fez a few months ago, and when you say “lunch” in Morocco – think European. It is, at minimum, a three-hour affair.
We approached the Palais de Fes, which sits on the turn in the road as you approach the Bab Recif gate in the Fez Medina, at which time I made my token remark, “If only they would tart up the front a bit.” The front of the building is home to a defunct fountain, a donkey stand, several out-of-work fellows who are in the sunset of life and various bits of floating trash, as well as groups of people doing the Fez thing – sitting. The entrance to the huge building which houses the restaurant on the terraces of the roof, is also home to guest rooms, an inside dining hall, and a cavernous carpet store on the bottom floor. You have to sprint your way through the carpet store, eyes fixed firmly on your target, which is the stairwell, located across the widest expanse of the store. The obstacles to this goal being the salesmen who own the store, and more bothersome the numerous young men hanging about at any given time who will, “show you the way”, and then expect to be paid for the uphill tour. Persevere to the stairs; you can only go - up.
One of the great things, among many, about the Palais de Fes is that you get your pre-lunch workout on the way. The stairs are steep, but enclosed with a landing on each floor if you need to catch your breath. As you breach the landing just before exiting on the first terrace, you pass the kitchens. The door is always open and you are treated to the sight of the cooks chatting away, or sitting on the huge marble counters, or on this day the owner, Azzedine Tazi, coming out, shelves rolled to his elbows, a sheen of moisture on his face from the heat of the kitchen to embrace us, literally.
“Ah you have come! This is wonderful. I am so pleased to see you,” and then a string of French, which sounds great, whether you can understand it or not. Today I get numerous complements on my djellaba and the notice that “…and that is no tourist-djellaba!”. Yes, the French left their mark in many ways, not the least the ubiquitous albeit different, fashion sense. He then tells my daughter how lucky she is to have such a mother. And you think I come here only for the food?
We have come here in the hot months of September and October. We came during the near-perfect month of November, and now in the chill of December. The service has yet to be anything short of wondrous, and the food always dazzling. The service and décor meet my standards, and the food measures up to Q’s – you just can’t beat that!
There are three terraces on the roof set at different heights. They can accommodate parties of any size I should think. We, because I don’t like to eat outside, always eat in the enclosed dining room at the top. There are baguettes along the wall cushioned in a deep and lush looking purple. The fireplace sits at the far end away from the entrance. There is a large settee next to the fireplace under the far window. The entire dining room is enclosed in glass windows that in the warmer weather slide open to accommodate the wonderful breezes that always seem to haunt this altitude. As you sit at the smaller cedar tables, decorated in the Moroccan style, along the window-side you have a panoramic view of the Medina below and the hills that surround Fes. The buildings of the Medina, in various stages of white and beige, sport laundry and satellite dishes in perfusion. From the windows you look down on the roof of the next level terrace, which is topped year round with boughs of red and purple bougainvillea and draped with white jasmine. The far terrace is also roofed and open to the breeze; it sits below and across from the highest dining room. The flocks of birds of various sizes and colors swoop down, out, and through the flowers, passing the windows as they wing their way up and out to the surrounding hills.
When you arrive there is seldom anyone else there. Whether this is because the Palais de Fes is more active at night or we have been lucky to find it this way I don’t know, but it is always wonderful.