A tureen of soup first, with lamb and lentils and lemon. Then shish kebab. Then a smoking platter of lamb knuckles with artichoke stalks and lemon. Then a huge bowl of meatballs with lightly fried eggs on top, floating on a mixture of paprika or chile pepper. Tex-Mex-Moroc, I thought. Next came an equally large serving of whole chickens highly seasoned and swimming in juices. This was followed by an entire barbequed lamb. Then came the couscous, served on this occasion as a dessert with powdered sugar. Finally, there was fruit and hot mint tea.
We dined Moroccan style, which means that one eats only with the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand. Just reach in and rip it out.
For a napkin there is only your very own huge loaf of crusty bread. You wipe your hand on it, or tear off chunks and dip it in the bowls and platters. Moroccans know where the best pieces of barbequed lamb and seasoned chicken are. My hand followed theirs, to the point, in fact, that one or two of them began to pull off delicate, lean slivers of meat and offerthem to me. "Fine. Sure is," I said.
To say the least, it was the best meal I've ever had.
And so when Hassan asked how our dinner was last night, I couldn't resist preempting Claude.
"It was marvelous," I said. "And what I think I'll do is cut off my right hand and open a restaurant in New York."
His Majesty laughed and repeated the remark to aides.
"He likes a joke," I told Claude.
Along about here, the king's golf suffered a bit. From the fifth or sixth tee he hooked a high one over the palace wall and onto the Boulevard des Saadiens.
"Golf go away, Monsieur Har-moan," he told Claude.
"Golf will come back," Harmon smiled.
Whereupon the king hooked another one over the wall.