Happy new year 2007 !

mardi 24 juin 2014, 16:46

At some point during Ramadan a comment was made that the Aid al Kabir, the sheep feast/sacrifice was likely to fall on the day of New Year's Eve. Of all the Muslim holidays, this is the most important and pervasive. It begins a week or ten days in advance with the opening of sheep markets where live sheep are purchased and brought to yards, alleys or apartment terraces to await their fate. With the morning prayer the sheep are slaughtered and a day begins of roasting and eating various parts of the sheep starting with the head. Sale of alcohol to muslims is forbidden in advance of the holiday and shortly thereafter...

While we have had a good share of tourists and foreigners during our two other New Year’s Eve celebrations the majority of our clients have been Moroccans in a celebratory mood. Because we’d finally invested in our own sound system we decided to advance the New Year’s festivities and begin special menus and music on the 28th. This helped our chef, as his kitchen was the most impacted section of the restaurant with two of his key people having to travel to the south to join their families. They stayed until the 30th. The menu for the 31st was chosen for elegance together with simplicity of preparation. We had flyers printed that we distributed to hotel concierges and travel agencies trying to get the word our to visiting tourists that there was a real oasis awaiting them for New Year’s. As it turned out there were maybe three restaurants in Casablanca open on New Year’s Eve, most of the hotels decided not to hold New Year’s parties, and we had far more people than either of the last two years. Because everything – including the Marche Central – would be closed on the 31st, we had to be completely organized by Saturday the 30th, and we were. We gave all staff the morning and early afternoon off, asking them to come in at 4:00. I was awakened early in the morning by the alternative sounds of the call to prayer and sheeps braying (their last breath). Downstairs I handled last minute phone calls for reservations – including a Japanese group! At 4 the service and kitchen teams arrived and we all set to work with the final decorative and organizational touches. It’s been a busy but difficult year with staff departures and reorganization, but as I watched us all working together it was clear the positive mood was not just felt by me. Issam’s group photo says it all. The evening was great fun, and I especially enjoyeed meeting some clients who’d reserved by e-mail many months in advance. The U.S. Consul General and his great family enjoyed the evening at table No. 1, and there’s nothing like a Japanese group to add to the international atmosphere. It was a strange sensation having a crowd that was 99% foreign, and all familiar with the film. It was particularly touching when, after Issam played “As Time Goes By,” the applause lasted for more than a minute with several on their feet. A lovely evening which I’ll treasure most for the pride we all felt in overcoming what were some very real challenges.