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New museum openings in Morocco 2017

New museum openings in Morocco: So many it makes my head spin.
Les musées enrichiront le paysage culturel après la réouverture du Musée de la Kasbah des cultures méditerranéennes de Tanger et le Musée de l’histoire et des civilisations de Rabat. . . . nous allons réouvrir au plus tard début septembre le Musée national de la céramique à Safi puis deux mois après le Musée national du tapis à Dar Si Essaid à Marrakech», says Mehdi Qotbi, président de la Fondation nationale des musées du Royaume (FNM).

Le musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech will open on October 19th, a few days after the one in Paris.
Morocco, land of festivals

Twelve young Moroccans got to attend the annual NASA Space Camp in Alabama.
Douze lycéens marocains âgés de 15 à 18 ans participent, du 1er au 11 juillet à Huntsville en Alabama, au Space Camp (le Camp de l’Espace),

Patissier extraordinaire,  THE KING of MACARONS, Pierre Hermé, known as le “Picasso de la pâtisserie” ou le “Dior du dessert” opens his new store at La Mamounia . . .  (macarons are those ubiquitous colorful little disks)

At the movies:
A Moroccan-American makes movies in New Orleans:


The Kasbah Chronicles August 2017


Everyone wins in Toulouse!
Cruising the Canal du Midi
Invasion of the Ripe Tomatoes
News of Morocco and beyond
Links of interest
North San Diego County discoveries
Kitty contributes to The Vista Press
A French wedding menu

Kitty is selling: Moroccan items
Three piece 1930s-style, carved oak, vintage living room set

My last Chronicles described my travels to France in April to reconnect with childhood friends from Casablanca. We met up in Paris (1st part), Vienna, and Nice. Next in store is TOULOUSE. ( I have so much more to say about Paris, that Ill devote my next Chronicles to the rest of my Parisian interlude)


Dateline TOULOUSE:
Liz was the friend I reconnected with in what the French call “La Ville Rose” so named for its abundance of red brick buildings (in Morocco, we call Marrakech “The Pink City” as well).

Liz and I both attended the lycée in Casablanca, and she hosted the very LAST party I attended before I set off for Tangier with my mother and brother in August 1964 to catch the boat that would bring us to the US.

A few decades later, my friend was waiting for me at the charming Blagnac airport, all smiles, and looking much as I remembered her (and she immediately whisked me off to a bakery to sample fenétra, a special bread. What a friend!

Many of my lycée classmates headed to Toulouse to go to university. Fifty years on, I wished I had gone to visit them at the time. Students make up 1/10th of the population in this town of 900,000 inhabitants.

Toulouse, aka (as well) la Cité des Violettes, straddles two major waterways: the wide river Garonne, one of France’s longest. When the sun is out, hundreds of étudiants sun themselves on its grassy banks. And the placid, 17th century, man-made Canal du Midi, that stretches between the Garonne and the Mediterranean to the west and the Gironde estuary near Bordeaux. More important for gourmets, is the fact that Toulouse is the navel of the universe for cassoulet, and for foie gras, which I sampled in numerous iterations over three days —— along with Liz’s home-made cassoulet, stuffed with the region’s famed saucisses.

But first things first: We hot-footed it out of the spotless metro the next morning, onto Toulouse’s wide Alléees Jean Jaurès in the centre ville, near Les Américains, a café bistrot ideal for people watching. Liz was on a mission: to reach le marché Cristal on the Blvd de Strasbourg before closing time. For a list, see

I tried not to trip as I craned my neck to look up at the handsome brick buildings along the tree-lined boulevard. In minutes, we were engulfed in the colorful sounds of the daily marché .Asperges! Tomates! Champignons! Poulet de Ferme! And some Moroccan: Labès, madame! Many vendors hailed from North Africa. Slightly breathless, and loaded down with a cabas (bag) filled with produce, we took a seat at a table outside the Rose de Tunis café, a few blocks away. Nothing like a glass of piping-hot mint tea and a honey pastry to set you back on the right track.

Thus fortified, we boarded the free shuttle that crisscrosses downtown,along the narrow streets,  lined with universities and historic sights: the imposing fifth century basilique Sainte Marie de Toulouse or Notre Dame La Daurade, with its black Madonna; the Gothic style Couvent des Jacobins started in 1230, with its palm-tree shaped pillars. We got off at the Office du Tourisme in the Donjon du Capitole, which borders the football field-size Place du Capitole not far from the 4th century Eglise St Pierre des Cuisines. The cuisine refers to the Latin “coquinis” or food stalls that once occupied the neighborhood. St Pierre des Cuisines is the oldest church in Southwest France — there you have it, even saints think about food.

A few zigs and a zag later, we reached the banks of the Garonne. On this glorious day, students were out en masse, sunning themselves on the lawn, or dangling their feet above the water. Liz had more for me to see. She had me cuddle up to the statue of local songwriter Claude Nougaro, one of my teenage heartthrob.

My friend needed a ripe wheel of Brie, and knew we would find the perfect fromage at SENA FROMAGER, across the street from the Marché des Carmes, the historic covered market. SENA has been in business for 6 generations. Indeed, the young vendor behind the counter was busy upholding tradition, and handing out samples.

Liz had promised me an unforgettable lunch, and she delivered once again. The airy and wide-open La Cantine de l’Opera lies on the Allées Jean-Jaurès, near Place du Capitole. Chef Stéphane’s seasonal menu changes daily and encompasses all of Toulouse’s gastronomic riches, from foie gras de canard and cassoulet toulousain aux haricots tarbais (bien sur) to Jambon Noir and Tartare de Boeuf. You can’t miss the big green frog that decorates the entrance.


We needed to make one more stop before taking the metro home — at the Terre de Pastel ( a charming magasin that sells everything related to the violet, L’Or Bleu de Toulouse (the Blue Gold of Toulouse) the city’s symbol, imported centuries ago from the palace of the Sultan of Constantinople. I purchased tins of candied violets, the same delicate treats that I once received from my French grandmother.

My friend had saved the best (among the best) for last: a day’s cruise on the Canal du Midi. Her friend Bruno’s flat-bottomed péniche is the classic way to explore one of France’s most scenic waterways. I was living a dream, navigating the canal at 3 miles an hour, keeping pace with the cyclists waving from the shore, and gliding under the dappled shade of an arch of centuries old plane trees. Liz had planned lunch along the canal, near the lock at the Ecluse du Castanet ( I stepped out of my dream into a postcard: a flower-filled chalet, once the home of the lock keeper, now a restaurant on the water. My Salade Océane would have fed four. Did I mention more foie gras? And scallops in garlic butter? I waddled back onto the péniche, and let the lapping of the water induce a gluttony-induced nap.

For the best couscous in Toulouse:

One of the peculiarities of this man-made ribbon of water is that the CANAL flows OVER the freeway . . . What a way to escape the busy traffic below.

I am already plotting to return to La Ville Rose.


Tomates, tomatoes, pomodori, matisha=BLISS this month


My current favorite:

Soft White Bread (forgive me)
Goat Cheese
Sliced, sun-kissed tomato right off the vine
Lemon pepper

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


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 ( and , 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 (, 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 ( 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 ( had me speak at the annual meeting of the 49writers annual conference ( on how to write a memoir. Barely had I set my handouts down that I was headed for Turkey Red ( 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 (, 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 ( 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

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 ( And finally, the Alaska Botanical Garden ( 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. (

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).

Classes and presentations Spring and Summer 2016

Classes and book signings:

May 14, 2016:

Benefit cooking class for the San Diego French-American School. Private event.

May 21, 2016.

San Diego Herb Society. Members only.

Looking ahead:

To fun events in June, July, September, and October 2016.

Looking back:

Culinary Historians of San Diego:

Nan Sterman, host of KPBS’s A Growing Passion, and I gave a presentation for the Culinary Historians of San Diego. Whether your interest lies in food history, cooking, San Diego restaurants, ethnic markets, or local farms, this organization spices up body and soul!


Fullerton 2

Fullerton Arboretum:

Mark your calendar for next year’s “Green Scene” held each April at the Fullerton Arboretum on the campus of Loma Linda University in Fullerton, CA. This is such a huge event with over 100 vendors, speakers, and experts in all fields relating to gardening and even Edible Flowers! Check their website for next year’s date. Bring a wheeled wagon, comfortable shoes and a hat! There are serious gardeners out there!

If you haven’t visited Myrtle Creek Nursery in Fallbrook, you are in for a treat. The nursery was awash in blooms in late April, and the quaint gift store was filled with items not seen anywhere else. The small Café Bloom provides space for a respite. And they rescue GOATS! discovermyrtlecreek.comMyrtle Creek goats