why orders in cafes were not understood

I just spent a month in Morocco, in many different cities. I am very puzzled by an experience that I had many, many times - and I’m wondering if anybody can help me understand it.

While travelling, I was communicating in French, English and a decent amount of Darija. But there were communication problems that don’t seem to have been language-based.

I cannot tolerate milk. So in cafes, I would often ask for hot chocolate made with hot water instead of milk.
“Je veux deux tasses du chocolat chaud, sans lait - seulement avec de l’eau chaude et du chocolat. Pas de lait, s’il vous plait.”
“Bgit jooj kas dyal shklat shkoon bla Hlib - gir l’ma shkoon wa shklat.”
In each case, the waiter would repeat what I had said, confirming my order.
However, I was usually brought only one glass, made with milk. Totally wrong! I would have to repeat the order many times to receive what I wanted.

The same thing happened with tea… I sometimes wanted only hot water and mint, no tea or sugar.
“Je veux une théiere avec de l’eau chaude et de la menthe - sans thé et sans sucre.”
“Bgit wahid brrad dyal na’nna’ - bla atay, bla sukur - gir l’ma shkoon bil na’nna’.”
Again, the waiter would confirm my order, repeating it to me.
However, I was often given only green tea, sometimes black tea, often with sugar, sometimes with no mint. Often it was a glass instead of a teapot, like I had specified.

I am very interested in where the communication problem was, in these cases.
My guess is that waiters didn’t understand why I would want these things, so they brought me what they assumed would be a better drink. Does this sound reasonable? Do you have any other explanation for why this communication problem existed?

I’m very intersted in any ideas you have about this.

Hello inquisitive1 :). How was your trip over all?
Your requests were very well formulated, and can’t be any clearer. If you ask for mint in a teapot and get it in glass, then maybe it’s that the waiter only communicated the order itself without the form, and inside the kitchen they manage orders the way they can (teapots already filled with normal tea). But when you ask for a drink without sugar and get it with sugar, then that’s some issue. And we can’t blame this on having an unclear accent in both Darija and French, as you said that the waiters repeated after you what you said.
The only thing I can think of is a poor service quality :). Maybe the waiter hears the keywords: teapot, tea, sugar and then gets you the regular tea order.
For nn3na3, you normally get it in a glass indeed. That’s how you get to see the water changing its color and the quantity of mint.

Simply Moroccan,
Thanks for the reply - it sounds like you’re about as puzzled as I am!
The waiters often seemed to understand my request, but then didn’t understand why the milky hot chocolate was wrong.
Quite puzzling!
I also wonder if they thought that because my accent wasn’t perfect, I was accidentally ordering the wrong thing - so they ‘corrected’ my order.
I guess I’ll never know! :slight_smile:

Hello all,

I just think like you inquisitive1, they maybe try to correct, you didnt try to tell them that what they gave you is not what you ordered?