My husband and I decided to find a restaurant that we could go to and have a different type of cultural experience. We eat out a lot and enjoy food from a wide range of cultures, so it was tricky to think of something that we haven’t tried. We decided on a Moroccan themed restaurant, which seemed fun and different from what we’re used to. We’ve had a lot of Middle Eastern food and I would assume that there are similarities between Moroccan cuisine and perhaps Spain, based on geographic location.
We picked a location in Seattle with a small and unique atmosphere. The restaurant had small tables arranged around the perimeter of the rooms. Bench seating aligned the walls, and small ottomans were arranged on the opposite sides of the tables. My husband pointed out some visual similarities to some of the places he visited in Saudi Arabia, such as the rugs on the walls and the fabric draped ceilings. The atmosphere seemed dark but inviting. All of the fabric provided a sound insulation, so although it got really crowded after a while, we were comfortable and could hear each other in conversation.
The food was good and was similar to a lot of other food that we’ve eaten. We were persuaded to eat with our hands so we had to wash up with a silver basin brought to our table. We had a five-course meal, beginning with lentil soup, salad and bread, and b’stilla. The b’stilla was impressive and a bit tricky to eat with our hands. Regardless, we tore into it before I could take an elegant shot.
After the first three courses, we were introduced with our main dishes. We ordered what was recommended by the restaurant owner, the tagine of spicy lamb with roasted potatoes, peas & carrots in a tomato cumin garlic sauce and the couscous with steamed semolina grains topped with chicken and seven vegetables. We ate our mains quickly and pictures became a second thought. Lastly, we had dessert, which consisted of a yogurt pudding with coconut, tea in a glass, and rose water for the hands to freshen up after our main dishes. We were laughing about the tea as we have close friends from Iran that love to drink their hot tea in glasses. It is a constant joke amongst friends that they needed to convert to a mug; after all, a handle is logical on a hot glass. We found it interesting that this restaurant displays similar cultural traits with other Middle Eastern countries.
During dinner, we met with the owner of this restaurant, to learn more about him and Moroccan culture. He was very friendly and sat with us while we dined. He told us that approximately 95% of his clientele were local Seattle residents and the remainder of the people that dined there were from a variety of places. Due to the limited population of Moroccan residents in the Seattle area, he explained that his business was based on the location, the local residents, and the tourism of the area. He therefore focused his business on his clientele, providing a Moroccan ambiance and thematic atmosphere. I asked if the food was traditional Moroccan cuisine and he confirmed that there were similarities and some of the main dishes are Moroccan. I did a little research and this restaurant seems to convey a glimpse into Moroccan culture and cuisine, but it appears that you should book a trip to Morocco to enjoy the real experience. They have belly dancing at the restaurant as well, which I’m assuming is probably an addition for his audience.
That being established, we enjoyed our dining experience and the hospitality of the owner and staff. When I researched the restaurant, I found some comments online that stated very high and very low reviews. Interestingly, the low reviews were from people with Moroccan roots. I must say that regardless of the criticisms of the restaurant, I have been inspired to add yet another travel destination to my bucket-list. Although there may be inaccuracies in the presentation and delivery of the complete Moroccan experience, I appreciate that this limited exposure has inspired me to do further research on Morocco and explore another culture. I also mark this down as another experience to reference when educating people about another culture. Careful consideration should be taken to facilitate that the culture you are teaching about is represented accurately and with respect. With some adjustments, perhaps this restaurant may inherent some new clientele and higher reviews. In the meantime, the people that run this restaurant are friendly, talented, and kind. It was a nice night out.