Needless to say, P and I are up in plenty of time for our cooking class. We’re scheduled to leave at 10am, but first we have to tank up on coffee after our all-nighter.
Breakfast is delightful, with several kinds of breads and pastries, butter, delicious honey, marmalade, and jam. And coffee, lots of coffee. I don’t even drink coffee normally (well, I do in France from time to time), but I need coffee this morning. Reviewing the night’s events is pretty comical--"How about that horn? That was a nice touch. What time was that? Around 4?", "Yeah, but the siren was really the finishing touch, don’t you think?"
At 10am we are at the front desk, where our driver awaits us. It’s a short ride to the grounds where the cooking school is located. We shove our way out of the street and onto the Avenue Mohammed V, past the Royal Gardens, which are hidden behind a high wall, with only palm fronds showing from street level, down a lane with a number of butcher stalls, past a few of the ubiquitous lone squatters, and are soon entering the Maison Arabe’s other compound, which houses the cooking school as well as a swimming pool and gardens. Eventually, I expect, the spa which was supposed to be open in October, but which isn’t open yet, will be here.
Karim, our host, meets us at the entrance and gives us a brief tour of the place. It’s magical, even to my exhausted eyes. There’s an Arabian Nights-style tent to one side of the pool, full of low tables, cushions, and candlesticks taller than I am. I surmise it’s used for parties and receptions, or perhaps just as a cool place to get out of the heat in the summertime.
As we climb the stairs to the second-floor kitchen we’ll be cooking in, a group of people passes below--"the American
Ambassadress," says Karim, "She comes here often." P and I exchange knowing glances.