Baku, Azerbaijan

  • Date
  • 28 February 1999

Once we walked into the gate of the restaurant, we found a patio area filled with fountains, sculptures and private dining rooms. Then we progressed into the main dining building. Because of the ornate and elaborate setting, I thought our host had taken us to a private, membership club, but I later learned that the restaurant is open to anyone who can afford the food! The décor was 80s style and over-the-top – lots of gold and other bright colors, a small fishpond, fake plastic flowers everywhere. Inside the huge dining room, the table was preset with a vast array of food – fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, fried chicken cutlets, cheese, caviar, lettuce, mushrooms and olives – a feast fit for a king. We drank Turkish red wine, Perrier and carbonated orange juice. Then we ate sturgeon (mother to caviar) and then a course with many kinds of meat. An emcee oversaw a “show,” which consisted of a shepherd’s dance, folk dancing, a belly dancer and singing. A 13-year-old boy sang in English Celine Dion’s “Titanic” song and I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could this song follow me all the way to Baku? Afterwards more music and we danced with the locals. The women moved their hands in a circular motion with arms extended out to their sides. I tried to follow their moves but never quite looked as graceful as the Azerbaijan ladies.