Fried Chicken on the Marrakesh Express
With many restaurants closed for Ramadan, we resigned ourselves to a greasy meal of fast food in the train depot. While not happy about this, truth be told, I couldn’t look at another tagine after two weeks in Morocco, and my boys were enthusiastic for a quick meal.
There was the issue of time, however. We were running late for the train out of Marrakesh. The Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant was just opening up, turning on the lights, heating up the fryers. I was doubtful and asked if we could get our food within ten minutes.
The young, ever-polite Moroccan woman assured me I would: “Yes, ten minutes.”
“Because I have to catch a train….”
“Yes. Ten minutes.”
We paid up front to make it faster later. Ten minutes went by. No food.
“Hi… Sorry, I really need my food…”
“Yes. It’s ready.”
“Could I have it?”
She looked me straight in the eye, sincerity written all over her face. “Yes. It’s coming.”
Five minutes went by.
“I need my food.”
Her steady, polite smile never faltered. “Yes. It’s ready,” she said.
“I’m sorry, but I have to catch a train, and I need it now.” An irritated edge came into my voice. It was a train station, after all.
“Yes. It’s coming.”
“Just tell me if the food’s not ready because I have to catch my train.”
“Yes, it’s ready.”
My husband glared at me, telling me we had to leave. A few more minutes went by.
“See, the thing is, I need the food now, or I have to leave without it.”
“Yes, it’s ready.” Encased in her rigid politeness, she would not tell me no. We experienced this maddening agreeableness several times throughout Morocco.
More minutes passed. My husband promised misery if we missed the train.
Finally, the paper sacks appeared. I grabbed them and ran to the platform.
We made it, and we hurried through the doors between the train cars, looking for our seats. My husband still glared at me since we had to eat on the train. What was our alternative?
We opened the bags, and the rich smell of fried chicken filled the car. A Muslim woman who was fasting for Ramadan must have felt her stomach rumble. The Marrakesh Express began to roll, and, feeling guilty, we dug in. It was delicious.
(Marrakesh Express video link)
This is part of a series, Scene from a Memoir.