12/07/2014 03:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Live From the Marrakech Film Festival: Dec. 6


I had never been invited to dine with royalty before I arrived at the Marrakech International Film Festival.

Sundance, you've got a lot to live up to.

As part of the international press corps on hand for this 14th edition of the FIFM (Le Festival International du Film de Marrakech), I was invited to a state dinner hosted by Prince Moulay Rachid. Just an intimate little formal sit-down soiree for roughly 600 people. There were five elaborate courses, each served family style on a giant platter, dished out by individual servers at each table.

The photo above is the first course: a massive pile of roast lamb, which the 12 people at my table barely made a dent in. It was followed by a huge beef concoction within a phyllo crust, a platter of a kind of Middle Eastern egg rolls stuffed with chicken and vegetables, another platter filled couscous and vegetables - and three separate platters of dessert, each with a different styles of pastry made with various types of baklava.

It was one of the most elaborate (not to mention delicious) meals I've ever eaten, an eye-popping finale to the first full day at the festival.

We arrived here mid-day Friday, after a four-hour layover in the airport at Casablanca. No one played "As Time Goes By," though the airport Muzak featured roughly the same 10 songs played in a loop -- most of them instrumentals on Pan flute (you haven't lived until you've heard Hotel California and Theme from The Godfather back to back to back to back...).

This commentary continues on my website.