Pigeon pie

Moroccan pigeon pie is a sumptuous spiced poultry pie using swuab pigeons enriched with ground almonds, sugar and cinnamon encased in crispy filo pastry.  As a discerning individual, when Abdessamad, the son of the restaurant owner ‘Gout de Meknes’, invited me to sample his mother’s B’stilla, I salivated just thinking about the rich taste.

I had been invited to a traditional Moroccan wedding having met the Franco-Moroccan Jihane briefly in Antalya, Turkey on holiday with her mother. Born in France, Jihane lived in Saint Tropez but her religious Muslim mother came from Meknès and still wore the veil.  When I asked Jihane if she had a boyfriend, she told me she was getting married in November. I wished her good luck and surprisingly she invited me there and then, a complete stranger, to her wedding in Meknes.

I go where I am called in life and believe in Happenstance.  I announced I would come especially as she was charming and I loved Morocco, the culture, the colours and textures, the textiles and the wealth of food but most of all the warm hospitable people. Back in Brighton I began researching riads in Meknes and Fes and got very excited, visualising in my mind, the Medina with its souks filled with colourful handwoven textiles, kaftans and Berber jewellery.

I discovered the charming typical traditional Riad Ritaj in Meknes on the Internet and became friendly with the owners Said, his brother Omar and sweet sister Salma on arrival. They called me Malika, the Queen that I am. Surprisingly Omar wanted to buy me a kaftan for the wedding and take me shopping in the nearby souk. Not wanting him to know that I already had bought a suitable hand embroidered kaftan from Fes beforehand, I told him I admired Berber jewellery. However I did fall in love with a traditional Berber orange necklace and he was happy to present me with it to commemorate my visit to Meknes, the magnificent Imperial City. Today I wear it with pride and think fondly think of him and his amazing generosity. Never in my entire travels throughout the world has a hotel owner wanted to buy me a gift! Naturally I gave the Riad Ritaj an excellent review on TripAdvisor but I would have done it anyway gift or no gift!

After the glorious wedding, where the ravishing bride Jihane changed her bejewelled gowns five times, I stayed on some extra nights.  Through the Riad, I was thus introduced to a French speaking tourist guide who escorted me, not only to the souk but also to the ancient, run down synagogue and abandoned cemetery.

Back at the intriguing Medina with it’s labyrinth of alleyways, the guide inveigled me into an antique shop filled with wondrous tempting Berber jewellery. I desisted, so he lured me, obviously on a commission, to the adjoining ‘Gout de Meknes’ restaurant for a mint tea.

On entering, Abdessamad Benzineb grabbed my hand and boldly kissed it with his lips, touching my fingers. Not too many men have kissed my hand and I find it charming and old fashioned but somehow he lingered a fraction of a second too long, squeezing my fingers and gazing into my eyes with a leering smile. I knew what his thoughts were. He then invited me to sit down on the back wall sofa propped up with sumptuous colourful cushions and called one of his staff to bring mint tea for us both. My guide tactfully vanished and I was alone with this young frisky puppy. He gazed into my eyes saying, I must come back on Monday to taste his mother’s wondrous pigeon pie. How could I resist such an invitation? It was clear it was an invitation especially when he told me he was attracted to older women! Looking for a foreign Sugar Mummy no doubt!

Tea was poured from a height from a traditional silver plated pot into enamelled glasses perched on metal saucers. I told him about Jihane’s wedding but he seemed more interested in telling me about an older Italian lady in her 50s who came from Rome every year for her erotic pleasure with him!  Then he fished out of his leather wallet a photo of the poor defenceless headless naked woman in the shower, full front with her abundant dark pubes. A sight to behold without her knowledge and permission for sure. My guide came back and we agreed I would return for the promised Pastilla on Monday.

However on Monday, I had other fish to fry with my guide and so he escorted me back on Tuesday especially for the promised complimentary pie. There was an Argentinian group and then moi-meme from England.  When the pie finally arrived alone on a large ceramic plate without any vegetables, I tucked in with gustatory anticipation but it was not so good. In fact I only ate half, saying I had had a large breakfast in my Riad and was not very hungry. Perhaps it had been made Monday and served up on Tuesday. Anyhow I was not impressed.

Young Abdessamad was nowhere to be found when the bill came on a silver plated platter. A bill? I was most indignant and insisted I had been invited. Abdessamad was in the antique shop probably hiding from me knowing his pie investment had not yielded growth. I complained about being given a bill especially as he knew I was a senior Tripadvisor reviewer and would be reviewing his restaurant. He mumbled he had invited me on Monday and not Tuesday and the bill must have been issued in error. My guide dragged me away at the pivotal moment. Did Young Abdessamad really think he would get me in the shower for a pastilla? Allah!

Written 5.11.18 in Brighton at home.

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