The night was young and we, me and a group of friends, were ready to rock Marrakech.
We left our riad, a building with fresh corners, a courtyard, and birds which drank directly from our hands, hidden in the labyrinth of the old medina, towards the famous Jemaa el Fna.
–Jemaa el Fna is that way, that way, that way! – Strangers would yell at us, pointing in the wrong direction. Invariably.
Morocco was new to me and, yet, it wasn´t. The Arabic Culture, the North of Africa, the Chaos & the Colorful Mysteries of Life have been the core of my life for too long. Normality, if it exists, is exotic to me. Madness & adventure aren´t.
We settled for dinner at a 5 star restaurant, half lit, warm, pretentious. Girls dressed as “bellydancers” were swirling around, shaking their tired, apathetic hips in our direction.
I ordered my usual “vegetarian tagine”. What I received was a plate – steaming & depressed – of old, heated, over-salted veggies.
-Hey, sir. Can you please come here? – I called one of the waiters.
-Yes, miss. – He approached our table, pulling his “tarboush” towards his legs.
-This plate is unacceptable. You´re cute, the restaurant is gorgeous, but these over-priced veggies are uneatable. They´re old, heated, and over-salted. Take them back, please.
My friends were surprised. The waiter was surprised. I think the “bellydancers” were surprised. I wasn´t.
Whenever I feel disrespected, I say it so. Respectfully, but assertively.
I was being overcharged for a plate of uneatable vegetables and there was no way I´d shut up – “don´t make waves, girl; don´t make waves! – mamma used to say” – and eat something that hadn´t been properly prepared.
I wasn´t upset. In fact, I joked with the waiter the whole evening; I accepted an apology dessert, and I laughed my heart out. But I didn´t pay for that tagine and I certainly didn´t eat it.
Self-respect is a sign of SELF-LOVE. Without SELF-LOVE there´s no love. No love for others, no love for what you do. No love at all. Period. Love, and respect, start with ourselves.
Whenever you´re served an old, heated, over-salted plate of veggies, remember to set the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable for you, and don´t be afraid to make yourself respected.
It´s not a question of creating conflict, or being mean to others; it´s a question of justice, clarity, and evolution. For you. For everybody.
P.S: This was the only time I was served a lousy plate of food in Morocco.
Moroccan gastronomy is amazing and, if you´re a foodie, like me, you should try it.