Tag Archives: France

The Kasbah Chronicles April/May 2017 edition (Part 1)

Ah! Ces Parisiens! Love and French water keeps you going!

The Kasbah Chronicles

April/May 2017 Edition

Part 1 of 2, or perhaps 3!

A FRENCH ESCAPADE

Part 1: Paris and Normandy

CONTENTS:

Musings:

Rediscovering Paris and Normandy

La Gare Montparnasse: An urban playground!

Les Passages Couverts de Paris

Le Salon du Livre 2017

AU SECOURS! HELP! A cell phone quandary

Travel information

A Note from Kyrgystan

Presentations

News of Morocco and beyond

POKE in Paris?

Update: Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued

(Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories)

********************

Dateline: Paris and Normandy

The Kasbah Chronicles were on hiatus for a month, when, this being a banner year for me, I took myself to France for three weeks. It was time to reconnect with aging family members, and with grade school chums from Casablanca, and meet up with girlfriends, one of whom I hadn’t seen in at least 40 years. As “best” school pals would, we simply picked up where we had left off.

Since my cousin lives ATOP the Gare Montparnasse (the rooftop is a public park!) I had plenty of opportunities to step inside the gare. This is what I observed:

Quelle idée géniale! Two cyclists powering their cell phone while on an exercise bike. I burst out laughing and the two cyclists thought I was the nutty one. And then, there was a public piano:

I joined the line forming in front of Chez Paul sandwicherie inside the main hall. This I did, once, twice, three and four times over the course of a week. I had just stumbled onto one of Chez Paul’s internationally known sandwich shops. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul. I was instantly hooked with a CRUNCHY baguette sandwich filled with a generous helping of jambon de Paris. And his fresh Tarte à l’Abricot. Chez Paul operates franchises in Casablanca, Qatar, Koweit, and Portugal among others. Best of all, you will find Chez Paul inside the terminals at Charles de Gaulle airport, a most appealing alternative to the overly priced and tasteless pseudo Chinese, Italian, or Japanese fast-food.

The other craze from Paris to Vienna to Toulouse is sushi! Every hole in the wall restaurant features sushi on the menu (A sushi and a dim sum bar at the staid Galeries Lafayette? Oui madame.) And POKE. POKE?! Hawaii’s national dish! In that regard, I ask the same question I do about argan oil: Argan argan everywhere, but where does it come from (a tree traditionally is endemic to Morocco’s southern regions.) How can the world’s oceans produce ENDLESS amounts of FRESH RAW FISH??? Je ne sais pas. Make sure you know its source. http://www.ozy.com/good-sht/how-paris-put-its-spin-on-this-hawaiian-dish/

Non merci: When in France, feed me cassoulet, a butter-logged croque-monsieur, frites, fresh baguette, a squishy baba oozing with Martinique rum (such as the one at the Brasserie Montparnasse, where the waiter brought us a liter of rum, and told us to finish it off by pouring the contents on two babas.) Our waiter was a transplanted Camerounais! Who said Parisians were unfriendly?

Les Passages de Paris:

My first “retrouvaille” was with my dear friend Roselyne Rahoule, who happens to be our neighbor at Dar Zitoun (and in former times, in Casablanca.) Roselyne had planned a special day that included browsing through Les Passages Couverts de Paris. What a treat. Les Passages consist of a series of nineteenth century commercial “alleys” bisecting buildings, and topped with gorgeous glass domes. Most of them grace the right bank near the Grands Boulevards. Up to 150 passages existed in the late 19th. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passages_couverts_de_Paris and http://www.lexpress.fr/diaporama/diapo-photo/tendances/voyage/paris-top-10-des-plus-beaux-passages-couverts-parisiens_1239783.html

What a perfect stroll on a rainy Parisian day. The sumptuous Galerie Vivienne which took more than 2 hours to explore, with unique boutiques, and Pakistani, Moroccan, Thai, sushi bars, and yes, even an authentic Parisian bistro. A real bistro lunch of Noix de St Jacques in garlic butter and Magret de Canard at Le Café du Commerce (caféducommerce.com) provided the icing on le gâteau. Among the most enticing boutiques was Emilio Robba’s (emiliorobba.com) magical display of artificial plants and flowers. In nearby Passage des Panoramas, the charming Hemingbird (sic) lured us inside with its delightful paper goods. We got to chat with the owner, who, wouldn’t you know, hailed from Chile! Merci Roselyne for these memorable retrouvailles (her husband, Abderrahmane Rahoule, is one of Morocco’s best-known contemporary artists.)

Paris’ annual LIVRE PARIS, Salon du Livre de Paris, book expo, beckoned a day later. Emmanuel Macron, possibly France’s next president, made a brief appearance. More important, I met with a publisher regarding my French translation for Mint Tea and Minarets, Le Riad au Bord de L’oued. Hope springs eternal. I am determined to see that book published in French! Among many treasures I obtained a brochure listing the Federation du Village du Livre en France, villages and towns all over France that specialize in bookstores of all genres.

My next retrouvailles took me to Normandy to meet up with Pat, who was our neighbor in Casablanca in the late 1950s. With Pat and her husband Jean Dominique I discovered Caen and its environs, where my friends Pat and Jean-Dom took me on an aerial tour of the Normandy beavhes in their home-built ORION plane. An excursion to remember!

Behind the Tour Montparnasse, a stone’s throw from the Gare, lies the atelier/Musée Bourdelle, a new one for me. Antoine Bourdelle was a sculptor who created many a public monument. http://www.bourdelle.paris.fr/ The unusual juxtaposition of Bourdelle’s work and Balenciaga’s signature BLACK evening dresses proved arresting. http://www.bourdelle.paris.fr/fr/exposition/balenciaga-loeuvre-au-noir (until July 2017)

Buses: I used the Flexbus and the Ouibus to get from Paris to Normandy, and return from Caen to Charles de Gaulle airport. JUST NINE euros (about USD12) buys a two-hour, relaxing bus ride from Paris to Caen, or return. Depart from the somewhat off putting La Défense, or Porte Maillot. You can even purchase a ticket online. Check out the bus companies’ websites.

Metro: The Paris metro is overcrowded and lugubrious, yet the most convenient means of transportation. I got lost in the underworld maze of the Gare St Lazare, and I wasn’t the only one! So I latched on to a school of equally aimless lemmings, got on the wrong train, did an aller-retour only to return where I started from, only to locate my exit on the opposite side of the corridor. TAKE THE BUS! A Metro ticket buys you a seat on any bus. What a relief to remain above ground and catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysées, the Opera, and the Louvre MOBBED, MOBBED, MOBBED, with tourists. Thank goodness I didn’t feel I had to visit it once again.

CELL PHONE quandary:I have an iPhone, but I am very slow on the uptake. I purchased a Verizon plan for 30 days’ overseas service. I managed to connect to my cousin’s wi-fi in Paris (I travelled with 3 phones one for Morocco, one for Chile, and the iPhone.) “Non, neither the Moroccan nor the Chilean cell phones will work en France,” said the friendly techs at Darty dept store. SO I purchased a fourth phone for local use. “Can you sell me a sim card for the phone?” “Ah! Non, so sorry, for that you have to go to the ORANGE (phone co.) store on the Rue de Rennes.” Half an hour’s walk and 2 miles later, I staggered into the Orange Store, exhausted, ready to cast all my phones in the Seine.

Classes and presentations:

I am home for the summer and Fall. I would be happy to schedule a presentation, either on Moroccan cuisine and culture, or on edible flowers. Short lead times are OK with me! As you know, I have given these to schools, museums, universities, cookbook, garden, and book clubs. Send me an email for information.

Next time: Vienna, Nice, more Paris, and Toulouse

Suite au prochain numero, stay tuned!

Kasbah Chronicles February March 2017

 

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THE KASBAH CHRONICLES

FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017

Contents:

Musings

March is French language month

Overheard

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.

You are most welcome to spread the word!

https://www.kensingtonmorocco.com/en/property-sales/azemmour/riads/dar-azema/

 

MUSINGS:

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

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/06/beyond-kingdom-death-journey-subterranean-paris?CMP=share_btn_link

 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:

https://france-amerique.com/fr/la-resistance-des-dialectes-francais-aux-etats-unis/

“ 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.

RECIPE:

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:

A National Museum Celebrating American Writers
Opening in Chicago on May 16, 2017

“Literature matters. The incredibly diverse history of this country can be accessed, interpreted, illuminated, shared, through the literatures created by its writer. . .”

Overheard:

TRUST EVERYONE BUT TIE UP YOUR CAMEL!!!

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!

www.cmoondesigns.com

And Oud music to soothe your soul:

Frank Lazarro and Alexi Rabay duo play traditional Andalusian music: alexicanhelpyou@gmail.com

FOOD NEWS:

Great food history site:

http://www.onthetable.us

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:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tmullen/2017/01/23/gruet-french-quality-bubbles-from-the-american-desert/#482c16f4fe17

“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!

Zakaria Wahby, premier “Meilleur sommelier du Maroc”

 

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.

http://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/2016/11/22/art-se-conjugue-au-femini_n_13150988.html?utm_hp_ref=maroc

Another exciting piece of news from Morocco:

http://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/2017/02/21/nasa-decouvertehttp://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/2017/02/21/nasa-decouverte_n_14894390.html

“Une découverte majeure de la NASA réalisée avec l’Observatoire de l’Oukaïmeden

NASA Finds Solar System With Seven Earth-Sized Planets.

“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.

Bon appetit!