Mediterra is known to be one of the best restaurants in Princeton. I was super excited to use it as my venue for the Music in Princeton fieldwork project when I found out they had Latin Jazz on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was all set to go and eat paella and drink sangria while I did my “research,” when I decided to look at the menu online before I left. What did I find? $2 Tapas. No, you did not misread that. I’m talking about bacon-wrapped dates for just TWO LITTLE DOLLARS. Screw the paella!
So I rounded up a few friends and we headed out to Mediterra around 9 on a Tuesday night. When we got there, the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy, but wasn’t empty either. The Taverna, (…also know as Mediterra’s bar section. Could they just call it the bar? Sure, but it’s so much more fun to be exotic and dangerous!) however, was PACKED. I went with two other people, and we awkwardly stood for at least five minutes trying to find a group that was leaving so we could sit together. Luckily we were able to pounce on a group of three stools together at the bar. I was excited for the food. Also for the music, but mostly for the bacon-wrapped dates.
We sat and it got even better. They had wine specials too! Spanish wine! No wonder it was so crowded in the Taverna! We ordered some wine and several tapas to share and the wait began. Then I remembered why I was even there in the first place…
Oh yeah, the Latin Jazz band! Wait, where are they? The hostess on the phone earlier said they usually start around 8 or 8:30. *Looks at watch* It’s after nine. Hmm. *Looks around* Oh, well I see some instruments over by the wine. Maybe they’re on a little break or something.
Nearly fifteen minutes go by and I see a group of three men go back up to the wine wall. I reassure myself that it must be the band. Almost instantaneously, our tapas are served to us. Victory on all fronts! A glass of Spanish Red, Falafel, bacon-wrapped dates, and empanadas… This girl was content.
The band started playing and it was groovy. It was the most perfect accompaniment for the food we had just begun to enjoy. The music sounded like traditional Spanish music, although I was not very familiar with this type of music. It was just loud enough where we could focus on the music if we chose to, but could easily have a conversation over the music as well. The band featured a drummer, a guitar player, and…wait, is that a flute?
The flute player started to play and he was fantastic! (Not to mention handsome ;]) It was all improvisation. The whole Taverna listened as he laid it down. It was exciting and different! When he was done playing, he received a lot of well-deserved applause. The rest of the band continued and the drummer and flute player joined in with some singing (in Spanish, of course). Who knew they could sing too! I was more and more impressed as they played on.
Little did I know, they wouldn’t play on for very much longer. They took another long break (exactly 30 minutes), and then continued with only one more set. Less people had stuck around for this set, but the crowd that remained was entertained and engaged. I found it very strange that they played for such little time.
It was obvious that the people in the Taverna were there primarily for the food (hello, bacon-wrapped dates for two bucks!) and drink, but it was also obvious that the Latin Jazz enhanced their experience. The music didn’t annoy a single person in the Taverna, and most of the crowd was bobbing their heads or tapping their feet to the music. One couple seated close to the band actually turned their bar stools around to face the band. No dancing, though. I guess there just wasn’t a place for it even if the diners were so inclined.
So, my first fieldwork experience was a smashing success. I was left looking forward to my next trip to Mediterra for some more bacon-wrapped “research.”