Marrocan hospitality

On our hike I had met some new people including Belkacem, a Marrocan man living in Leuven as well. On the hike we were supposed to bring our lunch. All us Belgians had brought our own sandwiches but Belkacem prooved to have a magic backpack out of which he brought for us packets of cookies, yoghurt drinks, dades, oranges, ....

Last Friday he invited us over for dinner. From the last experience we somehow expected to get a lot of food, but the abundance of food that we got served that night passed all our expectations.

19h30 : 5 of us arrive at a table with plates full of different types of nuts, Marrocan biscuits, dades, ... and we got served excellent sweet mint tea.

20h30: We all enjoy the nuts and biscuits and for a moment I doubt that there will be more food than this anyway since all that Belkacem prepares in his tiny kitchen is more types of tea in his beautiful silver teapots and his cute little teaglasses. But that's ok, a table full of biscuits and nuts and dades is more than enough to fill our hunger.

21h: Nele tells us that Belkacem keeps on disappearing in the hallway because his neighbour and best friend is actually cooking a full meal for us. At that moment he comes in with 2 big plates of Marrocan pancakes/bread ....too good not to eat a couple of them.

In the mean time we discuss cultural differences, get a look in the koran and we are showed some arabic sattelite channels, ...

22h: We realise we are not hungry anymore. In the mean time we've met the neighbour chef cook who is preparing the meal for us. One of us is not going to be able to catch the last train anymore and phones his sister so he can sleep over at her room in Leuven where she studies. She decides to come over as well and we invite another girl as well...that makes 7 eaters :p.

22h30: After bringing over more chairs and an extra small table from the helpfull neighbour we all serve ourselves from a huge plate with a Maroccan salad: potatoes with cumin (hey that is a recommendation!), tunasalad, avocado's, ...... and lots of fresh bread. We all take one serving and the plate is still 75% full. Our hosts disappear again after opening a couple of bottles of wine for us although they don't drink alcohol themselves.

23h: Our guests arrive with 2 huge plates of grilled fishes, deep fried scampi's and huge shrimps. While I wasn't hungry anymore , this is just too tempting so I'll squeeze a bit more and have a go at the fish and shrimps! Very good.
Our hosts disappear again and when we ask them whether they are still cooking and try to tell them that we already had plenty of food, they promise us that they are just going to do dishes.
But when they were telling that in Maroc when you have guests , you need to serve them an abundance of food and something of everything (meat, fish, ....) I realise we have not had meat yet.

Midnight: More to my despair than my joy, they both arrive with a huge plate for each of us with a chunck of lamb, couscous, ....I already give up in advance, while others start to laugh in this surreal situation. Only Jan manages to finish half of us plate, for most of us it looks like we hardly touched it. We actually don't know if it is insulting that we cannot finish or it's the goal to serve your guests much more food than they can eat. We all feel a bit embarrassed, tired and very very full!
In the end we feel too guilty and ask if we can take our portions home to enjoy it the next day;

00h30: We crash back in the sofa. We all look exhausted and the sight of us all is actually very funny. We look as if we have survived a battlefield. We are served more mint tea and .................. an enormous tray of fresh fruits (pineapple, 2 types of bananas, 2 types of grapes, plums, oranges, strawberries, ....). The conversation becomes quite absurd "who wants to share a strawberry with me?" "I am doing better, I have already eaten 3 grapes".

When we walk back home with our tupperware pot full of couscous, I realise I've just had a wonderful meeting with a new culture that I will not quickly forget. It sure makes you think on how we receive sometimes guests on a lot more formal and maybe calculated way. On the other hand, I am way too rational to cook for 20 people if you only expect 5 :p... I wonder whether we were polite to take food home or not...
"Food" for thought since I sure didn't need anything in my stomac for a while.


dlaine7 said…
Ellen, that sounds fabulous!! My husband would have died and gone to heaven to participate in such a great feast!! Cheers to you and your new friends :)

Drun said…
Normaal gezien heb je het prima gedaan... Maar de (in mijn geval) Turken doseren de porties die ze zelf eten meer, ze weten wat er nog volgt.
Eten meenemen naar huis is een blijk van appreciatie, ik denk dat een weigering eerder een belediging zou zijn. En ja, er is altijd, altijd veel te veel :-)

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