Diner ├ deux
Christmas, New Year's Eve and Moorish magic are a turkey of a combination, counsels Gamal Nkrumah
It is natural to sense trepidation before meeting the New Year. A pair of bottled Stellas arrives. To my relief, the waiters radiate good humour. The platinum blonde gasps and clasped the beer bottle with the bravado of a gladiator embroiled in a drunken punch-up with a Martian. The ice blonde cools down a little. She clasps my flaming hands with both her freezing palms and we settle ourselves in the plush El-Morocco Restaurant aboard the Blue Nile. It is fair to say that hard living has taken its toll on my beautiful blonde.
The platinum blonde is the kind of girl who never wanted to turn mature. She smiles fiendishly at strangers and it doesn't really matter what they are saying and in what language. When she sniggles, which she often does when she is tipsy, she leans back on the divan and with crimson cushions piled behind her she plays the acrobat with her comely legs flying all over the place, her head pointing towards the chandelier-clad ceiling. And, her tongue wagging sexily out of her mouth. "I can do with a Moroccan fish tajin," she chortles.
"Harira soup is the traditional Moroccan starter," I venture sheepishly. "Is it?" The beefy American sitting next to us chipped in. He looked like some basketball player or a wrestler. "Oh my days," the ice blonde hisses. His throaty inflection startles us.
"I've never tried this Moroccan stuff before," he growls. He has a hard drinker's ruddy face. His forehead is deeply furrowed, a bit like the late Muammar Gaddafi's. With an oddly youthful sweep of blue black hair as weird as Gaddafi's hairdo. His puffy eyelids hint of decades of reckless booze binges. The drunkenness has obviously made his slurred speech rather cryptic.
El-Morocco is a conservative eatery. Couples only, so if you are single don't even try to get in. I eyed the buxom strawberry blonde next to Gaddafi. She looked remarkably like the late Libyan leader's Ukrainian nurse. She too has the dilated pupils and cherry blown face of a dipsomaniac.
"Nobody's called me lady in a long time. Would you object if I take your photo? Oh, no. Let me take another one please. Losing my touch," she huffs and puffs.
We are sitting in a magnificent moored ship docked on the banks of the Zamalek bank of the Nile, overlooking the shimmering waters of the river illuminated by the magic lights of the towering skyscrapers and the paradisiacal gardens of Zamalek dotted with countless palm trees.
El-Morocco opens from 8pm till 3am, so don't venture in early. The old and modern Moroccan d├ęcor is mesmerising. "Couscous," my platinum blonde squealed, and the strawberry blonde whom I suspect of being a former KGB agent snaps another photograph with a clip of her sophisticated camera. "I can't work that one out," she purses her crimson lips into a crimped rose bud.
El-Morocco has a reticence that is unmistakably North African. Alongside this Maghrebi rigour the crowning event of the evening is the lamb shank stew topped over a generous portion of piping hot couscous. The waiters are hovering around us and we are cavorting crudely.
El-Morocco spoon-feeds you with dishes unique to North Africa. The restaurant has a capacity for 150 people but we are deliberately unaware of the other diners. "Oh, this is simply divine," the strawberry blonde goes. "Shut up, get me another bottle of beer," Gaddafi snaps.
Licentious laughter, lewd and ludicrous, commences unabated. We were acting childishly. Children are not allowed, and only those over 21 years old are admitted after 10pm. So don't make the mistake of thinking that El-Morocco is a family affair. It is distinctively for grown-ups, preferably the inebriated ones.
Then I spot Gaddafi reaching into his pocket. His fist fastens unto something solid, and it is not his fabled golden pistol. Probably it is the best nip for the hip flask.
Blue Nile, Zamalek