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CHARMOULA marinade served at White House Dinner!

You’ll find a recipe for this classic Moroccan marinade in each of my books!

Obama Welcomes African Leaders for Unusual Dinner

WASHINGTON — Aug 5, 2014, 10:49 PM ET

White House dinner

“The menu featured a largely American-style dinner with hints of Africa sprinkled throughout each of the four courses.

Guests dined on chilled spiced tomato soup and socca crisps, which are made of chick peas; chopped farm-stand vegetable salad using produce from the first lady’s garden; and grilled dry-aged Wagyu beef served with chermoula, a marinade used in North African cooking, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.

Dessert was cappuccino fudge cake dressed with papaya scented with vanilla from Madagascar. American wines were also on the menu.”

(“Better late than never.”)

Dromallama? Camellama? Abdul or Fatima?


Camellama 16 b

. . .has lived with us for 40 years. Sometimes outdoors, sometimes in, always a bit tipsy.  It was born and created in Salé, Morocco.

OO lala, better late than never. December slipped away, and now January.   But the rains have continued, and it is cause for rejoicing.

December 2016 slipped away from me, and so did that month’s edition of the Kasbah Chronicles. I can’t say I am fond of “forced down your throat” holiday cheer.

I met my goal of translating Mint Tea and Minarets into French, and decided upon the title: Le riad au bord de l’oued : souvenirs et saveurs de Dar Zitoun. (Merci, chers amis qui m’avez aidée.) And now begins the hard work of finding it a good home!

I spent the month of December making yak meatballs and blood orange marmalade with the fruit of my overladen blood orange tree, in between savoring Geraldine Brooks’ novels (Caleb’s Crossing, People of the Book, Year of Wonders, March (Pulitzer Prize), and Foreign Correspondence.


Tangerine marmalade bubbling in the pot

Thankfully, the RAIN IS STICKING AROUND!! Lovely, air-cleansing, soul-refreshing, life-giving RAIN. Olive, our scottie, refuses to get her feet wet, but I did my little rain dance, then rushed to the kitchen to make couscous for New Year’s Eve, my favorite comfort food. I overate, bien sur. It was worth every bite. I list The recipe for Couscous Beidoui, Casablanca style couscous with seven vegetables, my favorite comfort food, in all my Moroccan cookbooks. This year, I prepared a variation on the theme: Couscous with YAK meatballs! (though couscous with meatballs is Algerian, not Moroccan.)

My friend Tershia d’Elgin, who wrote The Man who Thought he owned Water, a memoir of her family ranch in Colorado shared a precious pound of ground YAK, raised in the US of A. The dark red lean meat reminded me of ostrich and kangaroo (yes, indeed, couscous with kangaroo is an Australian invention.)The recipe for the meatballs appears in Mint Tea and Minarets. I have to say, even made with yak, they tasted very Moroccan! Recipe on the website www.mintteaandminarets.com.yak mtballs

Moroccan Kefta (meatballs) of American YAK.

(how cosmopolitan can you get?!)

If yak  is not available, stick with a combination of beef and lamb, as in my original recipe in Mint Tea and Minarets.

Links of interest:

News of Morocco:

Morocco’s seeing an auto boom. But will it bust? http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/your-next-car-could-be-made-in-africa/70241

Have you ever heard of cloud fishing? Well they do that in Morocco!


OZY.com is one of the most informative and entertaining news sites on the web. Quirky, up-to-date, and well written! (http://www.ozy.com/emailsignup)

Books for sale:

A Biblical Feast or Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion with Recipes, $15.95 plus shipping in the US only.

Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories: only 200 hard copies left! $25.00 plus shipping in the US only.

Books from my shelf:




Ilham Ibrahimi and Moha Fedal. Photo Cecile Treal

Jean-Michel Ruiz

In a cardboard box. Brand new. Box is illustrated, and bears some shelf-wear (from my travelling!!) on upper corner. Never used in the kitchen. NEW. This book weighs around 8 lbs, therefore, shipping will be higher than usual even with media mail.

Enormous coffee table book which I hand-carried back from Marrakech. Written by MOHA, one of Marrakech’s top chefs (my group had a cooking lesson at his farm outside Marrakech in 2003 or 2004.) Beautifully illustrated with scenes of Moroccan celebrations and special foods. Recipes included. This is a book to treasure if you have been to Morocco. I have several like it, and do not need this one.


LE JARDIN DES COUSCOUS; RECETTES DE LA TRADITION JUIVE TUNISIENNE. by Simon Nizard. L’Aube, 1998. 160 pages. OUT OF PRINT. Paperback. A memoir with food about growing up Jewish in Tunis. I purchased this book in Casablanca about 10 years ago, and read it once. Sticker removed from inside back cover, otherwise like new. Recipes included.

IN FRENCH: CASABLANCA RETRO de 1889 à Nos Jours. $115.00. One of a kind. Numéro 509. 102 pages. ISBN-10: 9954019367  ISBN-13: 978-9954019368

Editions SERAR, Casablanca, 1988. Documents réunis par Flandrin. Edition en fac-simile. 45 planches, Photos Marcelin Flandrin, avec texte accompagnant chaque photo prise dans une année différente.

45 plates showing landscape on one date, then a few years later. Unique book filled with reproductions of historic photographs taken between 1890 and 1928 by Marcelin Flandrin, Morocco’s best known architectural and landscape photographer. Gives you an idea of what Casablanca looked like at the turn of the 20th century. Book has long been out of print. One page shows 2 photos and opposite has explanatory text. ONLY 900 copies produced. This is #509.

Until next time!  Kitty



News of Morocco and beyond

News of Morocco and beyond:

Washington welcomes a female ambassador from Morocco:

Lalla Joumala, the Princess, the Ambassador

Mon Dieu! We are ever so hip in Casablanca. A new restaurant on the Corniche, (read Mint Tea and Minarets for an insider’s view 🙂


“Au menu: … La carte du Gossip est une véritable invitation à la dégustation et à la découverte de plats simples mais raffinés, toujours revisités.”

 Yves Saint Laurent exhibit in Seattle:


Headed to Fez? The new botanical gardens may be open in Spring 2017.


“Après 30 ans de retard, le jardin botanique de Fès verra le jour dans un “avenir proche”

Le jour où la cuisine française envahit la télé américaine
The Day French Cuisine Appeared on American T.V.

Winter 2016 Classes and Presentations

Classes and presentations:

A handful of kids participated in the Taste of Morocco at the Newport Beach Central Library. Future chefs aged 5 to 11 learned how make a Moroccan carrot salad, couscous with buttermilk and a watermelon and smoothie. https://www.nbplfoundation.org/content/Making-Memories-for-Children.html

YOU ARE INVITED (reservations needed)

Let’s Party at Le Creuset Outlet Store in Carlsbad!

Friday, November 18. 6:30-8:00PM.

A Special evening for Le Creuset VIPs and guests.

Le Creuset, Carlsbad Company Stores

5600 Paseo del Norte, Suite 125

Carlsbad, CA , 92008

Phone: (760)931-6868

Free and open to the public. Reservations a must. Demonstration and sampling of Moroccan “tapas, food entertainment and prizes. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! Prizes! Entertainment! CALL NOW TO RESERVE A SPACE!!

Saturday, November 19th. 10:30AM to noon.

Central Library, 330 Park Blvd, San Diego.

Info at www.CulinaryHistoriansofSanDiego.com

The Edible Gold Rush, featuring Ernest Miller, who will explain how the fruit industry brought lasting prosperity. Miller is a chef, historian, educator, consultant and speaker who teaches throughout Southern California.


Thursday, December 8th. 7PM

A Vegetarian Holiday Meal from Morocco

The Spice Way

Intimate classes, space is limited

Debbie Kornberg

(858) 967-1364

260-B N. El Camino Real Encinitas, CA 92024

Info at dkdspices@gmail.com


Mint Tea and Moose Sausage edition (aka The Kasbah Chronicles November 2016)

Musings: Mint Tea and Moose Sausage edition

North to Alaska with Adventures by the Book and Authorpreneurs


14484891_990463264409013_715228099704534362_nKaylene Johnson-Sullivan, Kitty, and Susan McBeth, president www.adventuresbythebook.com


Dia de los Muertos

At the historic Rancho Guajome, Vista CA. Anyone visiting San Diego should head north to see our gorgeous Mission San Luis Rey, the oldest continuing operating mission in California



A new tradition taking hold in the US??


My Alaskan Adventure

Debbie’s Salmon Chowder

Classes and presentations:

It’s party time at Le Creuset in Carlsbad, with food and prizes. No purchase necessary!

Books for sale

Need a gift? I’ll sign and send one of my books!

News of Morocco and beyond

In memoriam: My roommate, Lilli Kalis MD


As I write this right after the election, post Halloween and post Dia de los Muertos, the sun is shining, pumpkins are through a’bloomin’, and Christmas trees are making their appearance.

But I stray. To condense my memorable Alaskan Adventure by the Book  into a few lines is next to impossible. Let’s say that our 49th state is one worthy of discovery (barring the ridiculous TV series about Alaskan “pioneers”.) Dramatic, astonishing, awe-inspiring, are just a few adjectives that come to mind to describe the state’s breathtaking natural beauty.

I have to pinch myself. This year, I have flown the length of the Americas, from Patagonia to Alaska. The two areas have much in common. Towering trees, snow-capped peaks, water, water everywhere, inlets, islands, and glaciers (most of them melting away.) A moose sighting and a black bear in the wild were on my list. Both wishes were fulfilled in Alaska and more: I got to pick wild blueberries on the tundra.


Mam Moose and baby moose munching on Kaylene’s vegetable patch

As I mentioned in the previous Kasbah Chronicles, I went to Anchorage on the very first author exchange organized by Adventures by the Book and Authorpreneurs (www.adventuresbythebook.com and www.authorpreneurs.com) , whose president, Susan McBeth, has made it her life’s work to connect authors with readers. And this she does superbly. You may recall that four San Diego authors (yours truly among them) hosted four Alaska authors last April, and Susan and her staff organized a number of literary events for them here. Alaskans reciprocated, and we San Diegans headed to Anchorage at the end of September. My hostess was my former guest, Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan (http://www.kaylene.us), a noted Alaskan author who specializes in Alaska’s history. Kaylene is also a great cook: thanks to her I sampled home made moose sausage, moose steak, and a memorable Alaskan seafood feast that included freshly caught salmon and crab claws almost a meter long. Heaven!



What did I do in Anchorage? Let me count the venues. Seven events in seven days. Debbie Moderow (debbieclarkemoderow.com) author of Fast into the Night, her adventures racing in Alaska’s excruciating, one thousand mile Iditarod race, hosted our welcome dinner. After I ingested three bowls of her Salmon Chowder, she was kind enough to share the recipe (see below).

The next day, author and 49writers co-founder Deb Vanasse (http://debvanasse.com/) had me speak at the annual meeting of the 49writers annual conference (www.49writingcenter.org) on how to write a memoir. Barely had I set my handouts down that I was headed for Turkey Red (http://www.turkeyredak.com/) in Palmer, one of the most notable restaurants in the region. And what a meal it was! To my delight, Chef Alex Papasavas, who bills herself as local cook, caterer, and gardener, has as her sous chef Jalal Elbakkali, a graduate of a culinary institute in Fez. The two of them executed my recipes just the way I hoped, and, using local ingredients (salmon and spinach bestila anyone?) prepared one of the best Moroccan meals I have had outside Morocco. If you go to Anchorage, take the time to drive the 30 minutes to Palmer (not too far from Wasilla, where Sarah Palin can see Russia from her front yard!) Palmer is also home to Fireside Books (http://www.goodbooksbadcoffee.com), a welcoming indie bookstore, whose owner, David Cheezum, sponsored that luscious Moroccan dinner cum-book-signing at Turkey Red. Merci to all.



 Allen and Peterson (www.aphome.com) was the site of my cooking class, A Taste of Morocco, in what must be the best-equipped cooking school in the state. The store is a veritable treasure trove of all things culinary, from stoves to cooking implements and unusual ingredients. (Anchorage boasts several excellent food stores, such as Carr’s supermarket (aka Safeway) and New Sagaya, a maze of ethnic foods.) Who knew? At Allen and Peterson’s, another surprise awaited: Barley grits to make Couscous Belboula, a Berber specialty from Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. See my recipe for that unique couscous in Cooking at the Kasbah page 121. I have great difficulty finding barley grits in the Lower 48, so I was delighted to discover that barley grows in Alaska and that barley grits are processed locally. How cool is a company that lists its address as Coal Mine Road Lakes, Alaska, along with longitude and latitude?! Alll available by mail order from http://www.alaskaflourcompany.com.

The next two evenings I spoke at the Chugiak and Loussac branches of the Anchorage library, with a stop at the beautiful Anchorage Museum to view their extraordinary collection of artifacts in the Smithsonian Arctic Center (anchoragemuseum.org) And finally, the Alaska Botanical Garden (wwww.alaskabg.org) inserted my presentation on edible flowers into their lecture series. These dedicated gardeners brought samples of local herbs, which, in Alaskan summers, develop to gargantuan size. The botanical garden is also home to 18 different varieties of CILANTRO! I just had to stop by to see them on my way to the airport. The experimental plants were a little frost-bitten but surprisingly fragrant.


Our hostesses made sure to squeeze in time to drive us along the spectacular Seward Highway to the equally breathtaking Alyeska Resort south of Anchorage, in time to see the incoming tide galloping up the dramatic shore of Cook Inlet’s Turnagain Arm. To learn more about Alaska’s precious and fragile ecosystem, read my host, Marybeth Holleman’s, heart wrenching The Heart of the Sound: An Alaskan Paradise Fund and nearly Lost. (http://marybethholleman.com/)

An Alaska SPECIAL for Kasbah Chronicles Readers!!
Debbie’s Salmon Chowder

Serves 6

“To tell you the truth, every batch of soup I make is a little different!” says Debbie Moderow. Prepare this a day ahead so the flavors have time to develop, she adds. This chowder freezes very well.

3 tablespoons olive oil

8 medium carrots, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, diced

32 ounces organic chicken stock

6 small red potatoes, diced

2 pounds boned fresh fish (cod, salmon, or halibut) cut into chunks

1/2 cup diced fresh dill

3 stalks fresh celery, with leaves, diced

1 (14 oz) can diced fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies

1 cup corn kernels (optional)

Milk as needed

Cayenne to taste

Parmesan cheese, for serving

The day before:

In a large pan or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook carrots and onions until soft. Add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes. Cook 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes soften, and add the fish. Cook 5 to 8 minutes so it doesn’t fall apart.

Add the dill, celery, tomatoes, and corn, if using. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, and cover. Refrigerate overnight. Reheat over low heat. Add a little milk if the chowder is too thick. Before serving, season to taste with cayenne and a little fresh dill.


Back home, Chile once again beckoned. After travelling to the Island of Chiloe where mussels grow to the size of medium bananas (sorry for repeating myself), Chiloe mussels bathing in a garlic and wine sauce called out to me from Trader Joe’s freezer in Oceanside, CA. These Chilean mussels make an ideal base for the mussel mouclade recipe in my Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion (page 68).