The only charge for the 'free' food was listening to the presentations at the conference, so I sat down in the auditorium.
The first speaker began in Arabic. I didn't understand one word, but at least I recognized that he was reciting poetry by the metre and the rhyme.
At the end of the poem, he got a standing ovation. Only two of us (a Frenchman and myself) didn't stand up and cheer wildly (apparently, the Frenchman doesn't understand any more Arabic than I do).
Then the English portion of his presentation began: "Analytic and Algebraic Topology of a Locally Euclidean Metrization of an Infinitely Differentiable Riemannian Manifold."
And I am happy to report, for that one brief, shining moment, I understood the Arabic every bit as well as I did the English.
At the end, there was just one question, 'Who wrote the poem?' followed by another standing ovation.
As to the food, when I arrived, a breakfast buffet was laid out. When that was cleared, we had a very nice lunch. As soon as lunch was over, they set out cake. So my friend's promise was more than fulfilled.
Fatter but not much wiser, I waddled out after the final presentation.