Tales of the Lecrin Valley

A personal view of life in an andalusian village.

One can’t visit Casablanca without going to Rick’s Cafe and Carmen and I are no different, so off we went one evening.  We had seen the place often as it is very near the part of the Medina where Asiya and her family live, just in front of the Naval barracks.  The building has been very well restored and is not too kitsch.  It hasn’t religiously followed the film set although the bar is similar, and of course there was a piano waiting for Sam to arrive and do his thing.  We arrived early and had a drink at the bar, and tried to chat to the barman, although he wasn’t too hospitable, being more interested in chatting to his colleagues.  We were the first ones there and had a chance to look around.  Several tables had been reserved, as one would expect on a Saturday night, and a stool at the far end of the bar also had a reserved sign in front of it, I guessed for the owner,and we waited for Humphrey Bogart to arrive.  I am not a stranger to bars the world over and this had a nice atmosphere, although more from the people who were now arriving, expecting something different, than the ambience. 

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We weren’t sure whether we were going to eat or not but asked for the menu and decided that we would.  We were given the best table in in the house in front of the piano, surprised that it hadn’t been reserved and wondered if the proximity to the piano would ruin conversation when Sam started to play.  The owner arrived, dressed in a silver lamé suit, and took her place at the bar.  She had dark, almost black lipstick, and had her shortish hair done in the American, CNN presenter style, the kind where the hair never moves no matter what the owner does.  She appeared to be in her fifties and looked around her bar to suss the punters.  We ordered our meal and a bottle of Moroccan wine, the price of which would have paid Asiyah’s rent for a fortnight, and got stuck in.  The food was good, obviously French influenced, and the filet mignon I had was perfectly cooked, although with not too much taste, but I had found this with other fillets in Morocco.  The owner rose from her stool and ghosted, there is no other word for it, around the tables welcoming diners and asking if all was O.K.  I have never seen anyone so bored and so mechanically doing what seemed to be such a chore.  The waiters were a bit reticent at first but we soon got them to loosen up by practising our Arabic on them.  Then Sam arrived, or rather Issam, as he said was called but which seemed a bit too close for authenticity.  He played a very pleasant medley of tunes, asking us if the music was too loud, which we said wasn’t.  We waited for him to play ‘As Time Goes By’ as is mandatory and we finished our meal and left.  A pleasant enough evening which was nicely rounded off as we were leaving with a voice from behind us which suddenly said, ‘ ‘Ere, hang abaht,’ in a thick London accent.  We turned to see a Moroccan man dressed in a jellabah and fez offering us some publicity about the bar.  It turned out he had lived in London near Vauxhall Bridge and had picked up the argot there.