December 18, 2002
At ground level, the first impression may be that of a hawker, whose job is to differentiate himself from the zillions of hawkers in the medina so that he can lure you in. There is a kitchen selling food to go, the same kitchen that would be cooking our items, though we would be sitting two levels up in the balcony seating. This is not a large space, but there is room for a few tables under awnings. It was raining heavily, so we were thankful that there were no leaks in the awnings! Our table overlooked the inside of the Bab Boujeloud and the street below. What an opera that Fes is from this vantage point! There’s the stream of tourists checking into the budget hotel across the way. There's the donkey carts plunging through the mass of humanity. There's the woman hanging her wash on her rooftop even during the torrential downpour. There's the shopkeeper broomsticking the underside of his storefront awning, sending cascades of water onto his blackboard specials sign.
Oh I almost forgot, there's food to be had at La Kasbah. We both ordered a full menu meal, as it was late afternoon and this meal would be the equivalent of lunch and dinner for us. We ordered harira soup, a delicious thick soup that is popular in Morocco. No wonder, it is thick with lentils, vegetables, and minestrone-like broth. A basket of chewy bread, similar to thick pita disks, is accompanied by flavorful ratatouille spread. I ordered a considerable dish of couscous with tender chicken, boiled vegetables, raisins and caramelized onions. The dish was simultaneously sweet and hearty, tasty and filling. I also had a large Orangina drink (I love the French influence upon Morocco!), a dish of unpeeled fruit, something called gazelle horn cake, and a delicious hot tea with spearmint leaves and lots of sugar. The mint tea looks like someone just stuck a green plant in a glass of water, but it is a most memorable treat to this palate.
It is still daylight, so no locals were dining here during Ramadan. Since we were well above the crowds, we could dine without upsetting the local sensibilities. The waiter did not seem to mind serving us, though he had to climb up and down lots of stairs to serve us. At various points during our meal, a fellow turned on a small TV set (watching a big soccer match?) and another guy laid out his prayer rug towards Mecca and prayed for a few minutes. There is another interior dining room one level below the balcony; no one was there this afternoon except for a couple of young backpacker types smoking and hanging out.
From journal Bill in Morocco - FEZ (FES)