Dar Zitoun, Our historic riad, the subject of my memoir,
Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories is now up for sale.
Renamed Dar Azema for marketing purposes.
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THE KASBAH CHRONICLES
March is French language month
Classes and presentations
News of Morocco and beyond:
Links of interest
DAR ZITOUN now listed with Christie’s
Our riad, DAR ZITOUN, renamed Dar Azema for advertising purposes, IS NOW LISTED WITH CHRISTIE’S.
January came and went, as did February, and rain, rain, wonderful rain. Those who live in wet climates cannot imagine how exciting it is to experience one downpour after another. And I mean downpours! Thunder! Lightning! Frightened dogs! Traffic-stopping grey and white puffs barrel across the sky and over the hills to provide a thrill for sunbaked eyes.
Thus I deemed necessary a change of scenery: I am off to France at the end of March to reconnect with three childhood girlfriends from Casablanca . . . Lots of pâté, and lots of girl talk in store.
I have been here already: have you? Les catacombes de Paris
Francophiles may be interested to learn that March is “le mois de la francophonie.” Who knew there were still French dialects spoken in the US?? Fascinating! Check this out on France Amérique:
“ March is “le Mois de la Francophonie” — Francophone Month! For the occasion, France-Amérique takes you on a U.S. tour of the French dialects in Maine, in Missouri, and in Louisiana. Read more.
“. . . France-Amérique vous propose un tour d’Amérique des dialectes français qui vous emmènera dans le Maine, dans le Missouri et en Louisiane. Lire la suite. “
I picked a handful of green tomatoes clinging to a dying vine. They brought to mind the expanses of tomatoes that once blanketed San Diego County. Remember when the fields behind Mission San Luis Rey were covered in tomatoes? The fields have made way to homes but the farmer’s recipe lives on in my book, The California Farm Cookbook (Pelican Publishing, 1999)
(Ex) Valley Heights Ranch Fried Green Tomatoes
For seven decades, the Yasukochis have farmed the fields behind Mission San Luis Rey, the oldest continuously-operating mission in California. This San Diego County family, like other local tomato farmers, has seen its acreage shrink dramatically over the years, due to increased water and labor costs, and to the encroachment of housing developments. Yet, like their ancestors did before them, the Yasukochis remain committed to the land. Their popular vegetable stand off busy Mission Boulevard lures dozens of drivers daily with their basketsful of freshly-picked tomatoes. Jane, an aficionada of Fried Green Tomatoes, adds a pinch of dry Ranch-style or buttermilk salad dressing mix to the egg white for extra flavor.
2 large or 3 medium green tomatoes, washed, and cut in 1/4 inch slices
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 cup flour for dredging
1 egg white, slightly beaten
1 tsp. dry buttermilk dressing mix
1/4 cup breadcrumbs or cornmeal for dredging
Vegetable oil for frying
Sliced cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Place tomato slices on breadboard or other flat surface. Sprinkle with salt, and let stand a few minutes. Pat dry. Dredge each tomato slice in flour. Set aside. In small bowl, mix egg white with dressing mix. Dip each tomato slice in mixture, then dredge in breadcrumbs or cornmeal. In large frying pan, heat small amount of oil, and fry tomato slices on both sides. Top each one with cheese slice, and turn off heat. Cover pan and let stand until cheese melts. If using Parmesan, sprinkle on just before serving. Yield: 4 servings as side dish.
Where are Kitty’s Books?
The Spanish Table, Berkeley
Books Inc, Palo Alto
Speaking of books: Opening May 16, 2017
Chicago boasts a new museum:
“Literature matters. The incredibly diverse history of this country can be accessed, interpreted, illuminated, shared, through the literatures created by its writer. . .”
Classes and Presentations:
I recently had the opportunity to experience these traditional North African activities:
Zumba and Belly Dancing with instructor Marcella Alva: http://www.dance2fitness.com
Henna designs for you, just like in Morocco. Great party activity! Her designs are GORGEOUS!
And Oud music to soothe your soul:
Frank Lazarro and Alexi Rabay duo play traditional Andalusian music: email@example.com
Great food history site:
MAY IN LA: lafoodbowl.com:
21 days of fun and food
If you haven’t already booked your next culinary trip to Chengdu or Paris, Jerusalem or Oaxaca, then you might consider staying in — or traveling to — Los Angeles for some, or all, of those 31 days. Because that’s when the Los Angeles Times will be presenting Food Bowl, a monthlong food festival.
French champagne in New Mexico:
“Turn back time to 1952, when in the city of Bethon, France, a 21-year-old man named Gilbert Gruet and his wife Danielle followed their dream of establishing the Champagne producing label of Gruet et Fils. Thirty-one years later, together with their children, they visited the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico. “WINE IN MOROCCO: How about this?? “Best sommelier”: Who thinks Morocco doesn’t produce wine. Today, the country boasts award-winning sommeliers!
News of Morocco and beyond:
. . . Nouvelle exposition dédiée aux artistes femmes au musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Rabat: Women artists showcased at Rabat museum.
Another exciting piece of news from Morocco:
“Une découverte majeure de la NASA réalisée avec l’Observatoire de l’Oukaïmeden
“The truth really is out there. NASA revealed yesterday that it’s discovered seven rocky, Earth-sized planets orbiting dwarf star Trappist-1, just 39 light years away. Three are in the habitable zone and could contain liquid water. The fact that Trappist-1 is a dwarf star. . . “
I learned to ski at the Oukaimeden, Morocco’s highest peak, where it snows until April (if one can call sliding down the slope on my backside)
LIKE the observatoire: https://www.facebook.com/Observatoire.Oukaimeden/posts/1245059385548737
I did go to France, and will fill you in next time on food and location details.
(“Better late than never.”)
Dromallama? Camellama? Abdul or Fatima?
. . .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.
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:
IN FRENCH: USD95.00
JOURS DE FETE AU MAROC
ACR EDITIONS, 2004
Ilham Ibrahimi and Moha Fedal. Photo Cecile Treal
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.
IN FRENCH: USD50.00
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
I am getting excited! My book tour to Alaska is merely 2 weeks away. If you happen to read this post, and if you know people in Anchorage, please feel free to share the following information. Three other San Diego authors are joining me for this first author exchange with Alaska colleagues: Kathi Diamant http://kathidiamant.com, Marivi Solinen (https://marivisoliven.com), and Susan McBeth (http://adventuresbythebook.com) for this one-of-a-kind experience. I will cook, chat, and give presentations on Moroccan cuisine and on edible flowers.
Here are the events I am participating in:
Saturday, September 24: 2:10 to 3:10PM. Roundtable chat
49writers annual conference, Anchorage, Alaska
Kitty Morse on How to write and market a cookbook.
2:10 pm to 3 10 pm:
BP Energy Center
900 E. Benson Blvd.
PO Box 196612 Anchorage, Alaska 99519-6612
Saturday, September 24: 6PM. Reservations required.
CHAT WITH THE AUTHOR while you SAVOR AN AUTHENTIC MOROCCAN DINNER!
TURKEY RED RESTAURANT
550 S Alaska, Suite 100
Chef Alex: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Books for sale provided by David Cheezum, Fireside bookstore, Palmer, AK. email@example.com
Monday, September 26. 6-8PM. Reservations required.
Cooking Class: A Taste of Morocco
Allen and Peterson Home store
3002 Seward Highway
Tuesday, September 27. 6PM. Open to the public.
Presentation on Moroccan cuisine and culture
Nancy Clark, mgr
Anchorage Public Library
Chugiak-Eagle River Branch
Wednesday, September 28: 6:30PM to 8PM. Fee charged.
Sprinkle Flowers on your plate!
Alaska Botanical Gardens Lecture Series
September 28 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
BP Energy Center,
900 E. Benson Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 99508 United States
Thursday September 29, 7PM
Presentation on Moroccan cuisine and culture
Anchorage Public Library, Loussac Branch
HOPE TO SEE YOU AT AN EVENT!!!
I did it! Behind me, Volcan Osorno
I wasn’t quite done with a report of my trip to Chile in March. I hit the ground running soon after my return, yet “Northern Patagonia” and “Atacama Desert” still sound so exotic that I can hardly believe I actually visited. Could this reflect my French background, since I encountered dozens of other French-speaking travellers? Want to practice your French? Head to Chile!
From pink flamingos at rest on one leg in the lagoons of the Atacama Desert to the pine forests of Northern Patagonia, Chile is a land of contrasts. Not knowing much about Patagonia, I flew south to Puerto Montt, the rather uninteresting regional capital, and a popular stop for cruise ships crossing Lago Llanquihue. Thankfully, my Chilean agent had booked a hotel in neighboring Puerta Varas, “city of roses”, the delightful capital of the Region de los Lagos and a departure point for the seven lake cruise leading to Bariloche in Argentina.
Majestic Volcan Osorno, a clone of Mount Fuji (though Chileans are quick to remind you “it’s the other way round!”) towers over the lake, to create a mystical background. I could see it from my room at the quirky Hotel Casa Kalfu (http://www.casakalfu.cl) painted in a blue reminiscent of the walls of the famed Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech), a pseudo-Victorian edifice favored by Chilean and French tourists. Uneven stairs, slanted ceilings, and a fireplace or two all contributed to its charm. Excursions to volcanoes and waterfalls, a two-hour cruise to Peulla at the far end of Todos Santos Lake, mouth-watering Tablao Patagónico loaded with seafood, sausages and cheeses meals at La Gringa restaurant in Puerto Varas, and salmon ceviche purchased from a food truck kept me hopping until came time to take the ferry to the Island of Chiloe.
A spacious car-ferry links Chiloe to the mainland. Castro, the island’s capital, lies at the northern end of a two-hour drive (about 160 km) along the Carretera Austral (point “0” on the same HIGHWAY 5 that links the Mexican border to Canada.) Another riotously painted hotel, this time in bubblegum pink, welcomed me. The Unicornio Azul (http://hotelunicornioazul.com) brought to mind a San Francisco “painted lady,” with a cozy room, wi-fi, and 4 staff members who lined up to kiss my (right) cheek, a la Chilena, when I left. Nowhere else but Chile! The hotel reminded me of the renowned, still unfinished Winchester House in San Jose, California.
I was on a mission to taste “curanto”, an island specialty consisting of a stew packed with fruits de mer, “fruits of the sea,” as we say in French. Curanto is usually cooked underground, over hot coals, but Restaurant Octavio across from my hotel, features it on the menu. Among the fruits of the sea: cod, mussels (forgive the repetition, but they were really the size of a medium banana), squid, the sweetest clams I have ever tasted, sausage augmented with the area’s famed pink “potatoes” (tubers) and tangerine-size bulbs of elephant garlic. The next night, I returned for crêpe de jaiba, crab crêpe, and more seafood in Tabla Bordemar. The waiter watched me, incredulous at the glutenous amounts of food I was attempting to pack into my small frame (all in the line of duty, of course.) My new friend called out the chef to observe the ravenous foreigner. This led to an hour of talking about global culinary trends while Frank Sinatra hummed in the background. What’s not to love here?
Sampling curanto led me to the waterfront fish market the next morning. Here, varieties of dried fish, mussels, and seaweed reign supreme. It has to be among the most scenic markets in Chile. That and Chiloe’s unique waterfront palafitas, stilt houses, were enough to entertain a return visit.
I would be remiss, however, in ignoring the smaller island of Lemuy, a 10mn ferry ride from Chiloe across pristine turquoise waters crowded with fish farms. Chiloe and Lemuy are famous for their wooden churches, structures dating back to the late 1800s and recognized as a Unesco World Heritage. Interesting though the churches were, it is LUNCH that sticks in my mind (and to my ribs.) Imagine a 30 minute ride along narrow country roads lined with blooming fuchsia (an variety called fuchsia magellanica and its sweet, moist buds called “chilco”), and taking a sharp turn onto an unpaved stretch leading to . . . the jungle. This was Parque Yayanes (www.parqueyayanes.cl) a hideaway with cabins to rent, and an acclaimed restaurant overlooking a forest of greenery. Our hosts: the owner, Jaime Perez, a tall, distinguished, elderly gentleman with flowing white hair and beard who originally hailed from Macedonia (!!) and his Romanian cook Perla Kohan (!!) They had garnered a mention in the New York Times several years before. “We built our cabins and no one came,” explained Jaime. “So one day, we looked out our window, and we realized this was our real treasure: Our view. And the restaurant took shape.”
To be continued (and then, enough already). . .