Lamb With Pears at the Argana Cafe

La tua richiesta: 
You won't find this restaurant anymore. Yesterday somebody blew it up. My fervent hope is that someday soon it is rebuilt, and that it will be safe enough for you to visit. I first visited the Argana Cafe in March 2009, one of my first more adventurous trips. It was so good I went there twice - their lamb with pears, cinnamon and spices so dazzling that I even started making it myself when I got home. And it wasn't just a restaurant, it was also a patisserie, a tea room, an ice cream shop - the kind of place where you could go and order a mint tea and sit and watch the world go by. Although the Night Market, Place Djamaa el Fna or however you spell it, is a magical place, it can also be a little bit scary for tourists, not least because of the henna ladies who can swoop in on you. It's hard to savour the atmosphere and ambience of this ancient square while running the gauntlet, which is the main reason that I loved the Argana. Unlike the cafe burn + control - de Paris, it is much more central. My first time there I remember leaning over the balcony watching snake charmers and critiquing the belly dancing. Did I mention that I was by myself? But I remember a friendly waiter who never hurried me, or stressed when I was dithering, or frowned at how many mint teas I ordered. I relaxed on the balcony and watched as the day turned to night, the lights brightened, the performers performed, and worshippers were called to the Koutoubia Mosque. This year my sister and I, despite sitting on the plane trying to figure out how many different restaurants we could try in just one weekend, realised that so many of them were hidden away, required reservations or were just plain expensive, that heading back to the Argana made much more sense. Once again, its tagines beat anything I've tasted anywhere else (even at the Palais Rhoul - which my sister finally admitted this weekend wasn't that great - she didn't want to upset me!) And although the atmosphere was slightly more strained this year (one waiter did remind us that service was not included), I'll always remember the older waiter who served us at lunchtime, and who laughed as I made a hash out of pouring my mint tea. He shook his head and poured it back into the pot and did it properly - waiting just a little bit longer and pouring it from a great height like a pro. This year I made detailed notes on what we ate: the Argana Salad, big enough for two - avocado, palm hearts, tuna, corn, lettuce, tomatoes mayonnaise was also a favourite - we had it for lunch and dinner. This year it was more crowded, it makes sense. Desperation made the market sellers more grabby, (I don't think henna ladies could be more pushy!) and tourists yearn for a more relaxed and safe place to enjoy the market - so they made a beeline for the terrace of the Argana. Just as we did. And sadly that made it a target for a terrorist. In retrospect I'm glad that I didn't write this review before - I can't even for second worry that my review may have sent some tourist into a danger zone, but maybe it will happen one day. My reviews are intended to encourage people to try new things, safe in the knowledge that someone you "know" has been there - but things change, management, suppliers, climate, and politics, what is safe one day may not be the next. I've started putting an "as at date" on reviews, so you know how old they are, but two months ago we sat here, we thought it was safe. On a day like today, the Royal Wedding in full flow as I write, I couldn't help but think of Princess Diana. Her death shocked people to the core, just as terrorist attacks do. I was working near Bank station on the day of the 7 July bombings, a friend was in the Twin Towers. There is no sense in these things. Terrorists try to create fear; fear of travelling, going to work, going on holiday, getting on planes, fear of each other. The opposite of fear many people say, is love. So maybe it's appropriate that I'm writing this during the Royal Wedding, a celebration of love. Let us love one another, send love to all the people affected by this tragedy, and do our best to overcome fear by enjoying and loving life as much as we can.
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