Category Archives: Travels

The Kasbah Chronicles: Quarantined edition, March/April 2020

When the going gets tough, the tough get cookin’….

The Kasbah Chronicles: now in its 12th year!
Quarantine edition, March/April 2020

(Full disclosure: I started these chronicles 3 weeks ago)
Time flies when you are quarantined.

Diary of a quarantine
Musings
Chard and more recipes available on my website
The 60th anniversary of the Agadir Earthquake of 1960
Kitty’s Whale of an Adventure
Kitty in the media
Links of Interest
On language:
My pet peeves (on  restaurant menus)

My best wishes for
a Happy (virtual?) Passover
and
a Happy (virtual?) Easter

Anyone can subscribe (send me an email) or unsubscribe (you know what to do!)

Musings:
Diary of a quarantine:

I hope these Chronicles find you and yours in good health, albeit perhaps chomping at the bit. I can’t think of a better place to be than at our very own Kasbah, and for that, I am grateful. My heart breaks for all those who do not have a roof over their heads, especially homeless students and San Diegans. I can only hope that most have found food and shelter during this horrible “storm”.

We are quarantined in Vista, as is everyone else around the world. Being stuck at home is no hardship, since I spend most of my days at my computer in any case, but there is a strange aura about. The world is topsy turvy, but plants are thriving; my fig tree is off to a new start, so is the pomegranate bush; rose bushes greet me with a new bud each morning (I thank them profusely). Meyer lemons are just about done (have you made your preserved lemons yet. Check out my website!) My blood oranges fall to the ground by the dozen so I spend hours making marmalade and syrup.

The funny thing is, I feel like cooking. I want comfort food! As I have written on numerous occasions, my favorite comfort food is couscous. The classic dish calls for 7 different kinds of fresh vegetables which I may or may not have on hand. So I added what I find in the recesses of my freezer: frozen broccoli? Frozen artichoke hearts? As long as I have fresh cabbage, I am happy.

Whenever I am uninspired, I fall back on one of my first books, 365 Ways to Cook Vegetarian (HarperCollins)  written under duress and edited over the phone during an epic and exhausting Labor Day week-end with a (manic) New York editor. The book sold tens of thousands of copies (not much in it for me), and one day reappeared under a new cover and size on the shelves of Barnes and Noble under the B and N imprint. OOPS, no one had let me know.

The book contains some of my favorite recipes, all meatless (not vegan, though it contains many vegan recipes). 365 is my go to cookbook, the one that contains all sorts of dishes from family and friends (they all get credit!) One of my personal favorites is the Vegetable Lasagna, one given to me by a local farmer.

The other is a super Vegetarian Harira, a meatless take on the Moroccan bean soup served during the month of Ramadan. My new adaptation: HARIRA WITH KALE. And, surprise, I even rediscovered my recipe for Egg Foo Young (remember egg foo young, the fake Chinese special??) Talk about antiquated comfort food!!
I didn’t have all the “Chinese” ingredients, so I chopped up some kale and other left overs, added eggs and Asian flavorings, and BINGO! My off with the virus version wasn’t half bad, and cleared the fridge!

KITTY’S RECIPES: Please visit the link below for MY LATEST TAKE ON Vegetarian Harira with Kale, and others.
https://www.kittymorse.com/recipes-to-fend-…virus-april-2020
I love feedback, let me know if they work for you, or add one of your own!
To fight the virus eat 2 garlic cloves.
It’s of no use
but it’ll keep people away from you!

Week one: March 16 to 21, 2020:
The virus is still at bay, or so we think. I go on what turns out to be last shopping expedition at my favorite supermarket.

Faced with a wall of greens, I purchase chard (which I rarely use) and a very expensive box of baby zucchini. My imagination is at a standstill. I purchase 3 containers of coconut yogurt, and a pound of sliced ham. Two mangos and an indispensable bunch of cilantro.

I head for home, aware that confinement might begin the same week. A light bulb goes off:  I call the family farm down the street to subscribe to a weekly CSA box: I will get farm fresh greens and a dozen eggs beginning Saturday. On the appointed day, I pick up more chard and kale. And the curly kind at that. What will I make with this abundance of curly kale?

It rains the next day: my Pavlovian response is to make soup. How about a sort-of-Tuscan Kale soup (white beans aside, since my husband is off carbs) I fill my crockpot with chard, broth, a sliced carrot, and half a leftover sausage. Relief comes the next morning: We have kale soup for several days. I must use the rest of the kale before next Saturday!

Week two: March 23 to 27, 2020
It is still raining. I need comfort food, and for me, that means couscous. I limit myself to making the meatless couscous stew (from The Vegetarian table: North Africa; I have a handful of new copies, if you are interested.) Used copies on amazon.com. My vegetable bin holds celery, cabbage, one limp zucchini, an onion, and yes: chard. I fill my crock pot with canned tomatoes, vegetables and spices necessary for couscous soup and usually requires 7 different kinds of vegetables, The new chard-laden version warms the cockles of my heart, and I serve it with “instant” couscous on the side. It’s so comforting to inhale the aromas of home: saffron, ginger, cilantro, turmeric. Two days’ worth of meals!

Chronicle Books also made a calendar out of it. It’s way past its sell by date, but has gorgeous pictures and recipes for 12 dishes
Oh NO: More green leaves left: I flip through my own Moroccan cookbooks to “rediscover” Kale a la Chermoula (from Cooking at the Kasbah). Chermoula spices flavor a marinade of cumin, salt, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. Combine that with a little tomato sauce, and you have a killer base for chard. So, I chop (very fine) my curly leaves, and pop them in a pan with olive oil. A good amount of garlic and some diced preserved lemon rind: voila. So much for chard.

I discovered a box of Trader’s Joe’s chakchouka, or shakshuka in English. I had my doubts about a TJ special, but much to my surprise, the flavors are there, though the amount is pitifully small inside a big plastic bowl, so forget TJ and make your own. TJ’s is a pureed of peppers with chermoula spices—in North Africa, the real chakchouka is chunky, made with ROASTED bell peppers and tomatoes, and used as a nest for tiny meatballs or poached eggs.
Make your own!

My freezer held other surprises. I often forget to label left overs. I once gave my mother what I thought was a perfect dinner—whatever it was—and she thanked me the next day for her mystery dessert. I now use masking tape.

My rummaging yielded a large package of frozen scallops (from Costco’s, they are delicious.) That evening my husband, Owen, was inspired. He is more scientist than cook, and shuns common “cooking rules” when it comes to scallops. No quick searing for my guy. He dices them when they are still a little frozen, cooks them in butter, lemon juice and white wine until they are caramelized. He then combines them with diced avocado and sprinkles the dish with chopped cilantro. I even wrote down that recipe so we don’t forget it.

Week 3: March 23 to 28:
We have plenty of food, but I need cilantro (kesbour, coriandre, Chinese parsley)! Je ne peux cuisiner a la marocaine sans kesbour)  s
My closest supermarket offers home deliveries via Instacart. Except deliveries now take over a week.
Thus, 2 ½ weeks into our confinement, I decide to brave the aisles of my favorite food store, Frazier Farms, in Vista (CA). I know the layout by heart, so I plan my “razzia” accordingly. Surprisingly, the store was not busy, hardly anyone was wearing a mask (I was) and kept to their own business.

Life goes on at the farm: First fraises des bois of the year!

It was the disinfecting routine once I got home from the supermarket that exhausted me:
Make a shopping list
Don mask at home and save the gloves for the store
Jump in the car.
My husband drops me off in front of the store.
I tie a bandana over my mask (the bandana soon slips off)
I clean the handle of my market basket.
I enter the store
I avoid human contact
I consult my shopping list and zig zag all over the store to find the items
The store is well stocked, much to my surprise
I check out and have to bag my own items in my own bags
My husband asks me to hop in the back of the car with the purchases
We enter the garden where we had prepared a large container of bleach water
We dip all plastic wrapped items in the mix
Meat goes in a cooler with a large ice pack for 24 hours
I take a shower in our back bathroom and leave my clothes on the floor
I get dressed

I AM EXHAUSTED. I DON’T CARE IF I GET ANOTHER OVERLOAD OF KALE.
Since my shopping expedition, I have learned this:
DO NOT TAKE REUSABLE BAGS TO THE STOR

A friend called me with a query:
She loves my tagine of chicken with prunes (now called dried plums) but she didn’t have prunes.
Could she substitute dried apricots? Bien sûr!! Or dried cherries, or dried cranberries… That’s the beauty of tagines: the meat and fruit combination is up to you. What counts are the spices. Fruit tagines usually call for cinnamon, ginger, ras el hanout, or nutmeg. Many seafood tagines rely on a chermoula blend (see Kale with Chermoula) of cumin and paprika, among others.

UNDER the corona wire: My whale of an adventure:
I had planned a trip in mid-February, before the Covid-19 scare, to pet the whales in Guerrero Negro, Baja California. I thank my lucky stars for being able to go, for this is a trip to remember. What an out-of-this world experience to float alongside friendly cetaceans larger than our panga (boat). I still cannot get over the thrill of seeing a whale pop up next to us (or thump the underside of the panga), and cast a glance at the exhilarated humans trying to make physical contact. The thing is, the animals seemed to like it! Access to the lagoon is limited and regulated by the Mexican government. Thank you, Mike Essary of www.bajacustomtours.com, a San Diego-based Baja expert who leads small expeditions to Guerrero Negro and many other parts of Baja. I will describe my adventure in greater detail in a later issue of the Chronicles.
Kitty in the media:
This is what I have been up to: You can read a few of my travel stories on this link:
https://www.creators.com/search?tag=kitty+morse

Look at what was on display at the San Diego Library: thank you so much, dear readers of the Chronicles, for sending me these pictures and at the Museum of Man in Balboa Park: eBook cover News of Morocco and beyond:
Morocco is under the same total lockdown as we are.

A look back at the Agadir Earthquake of 1960: I was there

February 29 marked the 60th anniversary of the Agadir earthquake, a tragedy for Morocco. On that day in 1960, a horrible earthquake destroyed the port of Agadir (at the time, the world’s leading producer of sardines.) Though we lived in Casablanca, about 300 miles north of the Atlantic fishing port, I still recall the terror we felt living on the fifth floor. The building shook for what seemed forever, to the point where we lost our balance. My parents, as terrified as anyone, herded my brother and me into the lift, an antique wooden “crate” with swinging doors, and by some miracle, we reached the rez de chaussée, or ground floor. We ran across the street into Casablanca’s largest park, now known as Parc de la Ligue Arabe, to join the hundreds of other casablancais escaping swaying buildings. We spent one night in the park, but many erected tents, and remained there for days. We discovered later the earthquake’s terrible toll: the magnitude 5.7 created a tsunami, and flattened the port of Agadir, a town of 47,000 inhabitants. 15,000 (more or less) people perished in 15 seconds.

Did you know? Le saviez-vous?
Pionniers français du Far West!
French pioneers of the American frontier.. who knew..
https://france-amerique.com/fr/the-forgotten-french-pioneers-of-the-american-frontier/?
(France-Amerique-newsletter-28-june-2018
et ça?
https://www.los-angeles-en-francais.fr/
Los Angeles has a French history
Los Angeles en français, le spécialiste des activités touristiques francophones à Los Angeles.
I can’t wait to take a French tour of LA!

On language: A word issue where I needed correcting:
One day last week, a TV reporter was interviewing an elementary school teacher. She was telling how she “conversates” with her students.
“I conversated with them, and told them that everything was OK,” said she.
Really? Conversate? I laughed, and so did my husband (and so did a couple of friends with whom I happened to “conversate”). A day or two later, said friend and I consulted GOOGLE…
I literally had to EAT MY WORD:
Conversate is a NEW WORD recently added to the American lexicon:
According to grammerly.com is due to “back-formation.” (Never heard of that either!)

  • “The Definition of Conversate. Conversate means to have a conversation. To get to conversate, you’d have to take the noun “conversation,” remove the suffix -ion, add an “e” at the end, and use it as a verb. That process is called back-formation, and the result is often a word that’s considered nonstandard—at least for a while.”

So, let’s keep conversating!!

More on the subject of English: The challenge of irregular verbs
Un cauchemar que les verbes irréguliers anglais.
Heard almost daily on TV:
I should have WENT (Aie aie aie!)
I have went (Yes, I heard this)
I been there
He done that
OUCH….

ANOTHER OF MY PET PEEVES! French words listed on American restaurant menus:
AAARRRGH: gravy “au jus”?? REDUNDANT….
It seems to me that if a patron is spending $80 and up for dinner in a chichi restaurant the equally chichi menu should be FREE of foreign language mistakes: It’s easy to correct: call the nearest French dept at a university or high school. OR SEND ME AN EMAIL!

Overheard a Surfer Dude on TV:
“It was like Amazingly awesome!”
I don’t think I can top that!

Correction: an eagle-eyed reader of these Chronicles brought to my attention that the Queen Mary is NOT moored in Laguna Beach, but in LONG BEACH (CA). Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
Can I blame the self-correct feature on the computer (Probably not!)

PS: If you have time on your hands, I always appreciate a LIKE on y Facebook page for Le Riad au Bord le L’Oued or for Mint Tea and Minarets. And a review on the amazon pages for the books.
Si vous avez une liste de correspondants e-mail, vous pouvez faire circuler lien pour Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued sur la page Facebook ou sur Amazon.com
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Le-Riad-au-Bord-de-lOued-110970043646415/about/?notify_field=blurb&notif_type=page_profile_completion

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YYLJX2K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Le+Riad+au+bord+de+l%27oued&qid=1570749667&s

Every click helps.

Merci infiniment,
As always

Bismillah
And
Bon Appétit

WEAR YOUR MASK!
EAT COUSCOUS!!!

 

The last Kasbah Chronicles of the decade: CUBA-December 2019 (a little late)

The Kasbah Chronicles (short version)
Entering its 12th year
Entre dans sa douzième année
the last one of the DECADE
MAY YOU LIVE THE NEXT TEN YEARS IN PEACE AND GOOD HEALTH
QUE LES DIX PROCHAINES ANNEES VOUS APPORTENT PAIX ET BONNE SANTE

Mieux vaut tard que jamais
Better late than never

Thank you for still reading my musings after all these years.
So much to do and see! So little time!

IN CUBA
You can RENT A FANTASIA
 
With or without a cigar!

Cookin’ in Havana in a great Italian restaurant. Pizza sampling! The crust is so thin and crispy as to resemble a crackers. These guys know pizza!

 

 with new friends. Hola amigos!

Why do I keep writing The Kasbah Chronicles?

What started as a press release has turned into a selfish pleasure: writing
I love to share information on food and travel and whatever else catches my fancy.
So, I thank you for your feedback: my favorite part!

Pourquoi continuer à publier The Kasbah Chronicles?
Ce qui a commencé comme communiqué de presse s’est mué en plaisir égoiste : écrire. Je suis une accro de cuisine et de voyages et j’aime partager mes découvertes. Donc, chers lecteurs, je vous remercie de m’encourager à continuer.

For that and more, I am fortunate and thankful:
What a year for me: Space Camp in Huntsville, AL, playing at being an astronaut; co-leading a tour to Morocco for Adventures by the Book and taking a memorable dromedary ride at my favorite destination, the Moroccan Sahara; binging on tapas at Barcelona’s famed La Boqueria public market; downing oysters and drinking cava (champagne) at an oyster farm in the middle of the Bay of l’Ampolla (Catalonia); exploring California’s Highway 395 gateway to Death Valley in the Eastern Sierras (now under several feet of snow).
 

2019 fut une année mémorable:

-Jouer à l’astronaute au Space Camp à Huntsville, Alabama (où s’entrainent les vrais astronautes)

-Accompagner un voyage au Maroc, avec randonnée à dos de chameau dans les dunes de Merzouga
-Me farcir de tapas au marché de La Boqueria à Barcelone
-Manger des huitres et boire du cava (champagne) dans le parc à huitres de l’Ampolla
-Explorer la route historique en Californie, la route 395 qui mène à la Vallée de la Mort

 
And in December 2019:  to cap it all off:
Et en décembre: CUBA

My latest adventure took me to CUBA. My travel companion was my friend Susan McBeth, founder of Adventures by the Book. (https://adventuresbythebook.com/events)   

Biggest surprise: US citizens can go to Cuba as individual travelers.It’s the US’s best kept secret: We purchased our Cuban visas at JFK’s Jet Blue counter, along with our boarding pass and flew to Havana on Jetblue. Carlos (more on our trip in the next issue) “driver/guide” par excellence, was waiting for us at the airport in Havana. All thanks to Karin of Espiritutravel.com

Cooking class in Trinidad: our instructor:

and of course, more sampling

yucca, plantains, ropa vieja and more Cuban classics. Too much food!

To cap it all: A day on an eco farm- member of SLOW FOOD…They make award winning own salami and cheese.

Mon dernier voyage, voici quelques semaines, m’a menée à CUBA—île interdite (soit disant) aux citoyens des Etats-Unis. Surprise : une amie et moi avons simplement obtenu nos visas au comptoir de Jet Blue à l’aéroport de Kennedy, avec nos cartes d’embarquement. Et Carlos, notre guide cubain par excellence, nous attendait à La Havane. Je donnerai plus de détails dans les prochaines Chroniques.

 No, I don’t smoke, but I just had to roll my own cigar! A hoot!

 

Cubans are eager to meet Americans—The embargo has practically put an end to tourism from the United States (though the island is very popular with Europeans and Canadians). Imagine: just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
 Street Food: CUBANO with shredded roasted pork..

Trinidad, Cuba, museum entrance
Cette porte me rappelle la porte d’entrée de Dar Zitoun, notre riad au Maroc
This blue door with Moorish influence reminds me of our front door at Dar Zitoun
 
AND MORE OUTSTANDING NEWS:
Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued, primé
Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued is an award-winner

What a lovely surprise to wake up to this e-mail on December 1, 2019
From M. Edouard Cointreau, founder, World Cookbook Awards:

“Le riad au bord de l´oued  is the Winner for Morocco in the Gourmand World Awards in the category “Translation” .

Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued est gagnant en traduction (MAROC) du Gourmand World Awards, établi par M. Edouard Cointreau.

“You now qualify to compete for Best in the World 2020  with winners from other countries in the same category. This year a total of 225 countries participated in the competition. You can see  the complete list of winners 2020 on www.cookbookfair.com

The following link will give you a General Presentation of the Gourmand Awards, including our Gourmand World Summit 2019 at UNESCO, the International Village of Gastronomy in front of the Eiffel Tower.” (Parisiens, vous pourrez vous rendre au Village de la Gastronomie devant la Tour Eiffel, l’été prochain,

En attendant: Merci d’écrire un commentaire sur la page  Amazon.com ou sur Facebook
Thank you for writing a review on Amazon.com:
Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued available as an ebook on Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YYLJX2K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Le+Riad+au+bord+de+
for a 40 page preview . Vous pourrez lire un extrait de 40 pages.
 
Please like Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued on its facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Le-Riad-au-Bord-de-lOued
Visitez ma page facebook pour Le Riad. Cliquez LIKE!

Et si le coeur vous en dit:
Dar Zitoun Riad: notre riad à Azemmour est toujours à vendre
Our riad for sale in Azemmour. Please continue to help me spread the word.
Merci!
 Si vous avez une petite minute, allez voir le site sur Facebook et faites suivre,….
  https://www.facebook.com/Dar-Zitoun-Riad-571764203267186
 Merci à tous

Bonne Année
Bonne Santé
 
Bismillah
And
Bon Appétit !

Le Riad au Bord de l’oued: winner (translation) Gourmand World awards

What a lovely surprise to wake up to this message on December 1, 2019

Le riad au bord de l´oued  is the Winner for Morocco in the Gourmand World Awards in the category B12 Translation .

You now qualify to compete for Best in the World 2020  with winners from other countries in the same category. This year a total of 225 countries participated in the competition. You can see  the complete list of winners 2020 on www.cookbookfair.com

The following link will give you a General Presentation of the Gourmand Awards, including our Gourmand World Summit 2019 at UNESCO, the International Village of Gastronomy in front of the Eiffel Tower, and the  awards ceremony in Macao. last  July

https://www.cookbookfair.com/images/pdf/Gourmand_Awards_General_Presentation_2019_11.pdf

Your book will be in the events next year. . .”
Congratulations and best wishes for 2020

Edouard Cointreau
President

Onwards!

Please like the Facebook page or the Amazon.com listing. Every little thumbs up helps, I am told!

https://www.facebook.com/Le-Riad-au-Bord-de-lOued-110970043646415

Visit Le Riad page on this website.

Merci!

 

The Kasbah Chronicles: November 2019: Musings on Le Riad au Bord de ‘lOued on Amazon.com, Tapas, and Manzanar

MUSINGS

Enfin! Version française. . .
Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued
en livre electronique sur Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YYLJX2K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Le+Riad+au+bord+de+
Lisez 40 pages

Visitez ma page Facebook pour en lire un extrait
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Le-Riad-au-Bord-de-lOued
ou

in English
https://www.amazon.com/Mint-Tea-Minarets-Moroccan-Memories
How I met Jacques Chirac
J’ai rencontré M. Chirac aux J.O. de Los Angeles

Barcelona’s tapas heaven La Boqueria
L’Ampolla’s oysters…
Les huîtres de l’Ampolla.. à déguster

California’s Historic highway 395
US395: Route historique de Californie
Manzanar Japanese Relocation Camp

A new neighbor: A Family Farm
Nouveaux voisins: une ferme…

Les touristes francais sont partout!
Un bistro français sur la route de Death Valley

News of Morocco and beyond
Links of interest in English and en français:

Homage à Jacques Chirac:
https://france-amerique.com/fr/on-the-road-to-the-elysee-jacques-chirac-in-america/?ct=t(France-Amerique-newsletter-28-june-2018_COPY_01)

I got to shake the hand of this noted head of state during the summer of 1984 when I was hired as an interpreter/escort for the French Olympic team at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. I was fortunate to work for the French Olympic Committee in the Olympic Village at USC. That glimpse into the world of athletics made me appreciate the dedication of young men and women from all over the world, whose sole goal was to stand on the podium and represent their country. . As a thank you for my help, the French team allowed me to march in the closing ceremonies, and provided me with the  French Olympic Uniform. What a thrill! When the flying saucer bearing Lionel Ritchie landed a few feet from where I stood, I was already on another planet with excitement! His hit “All Night Long” rang out over the stadium and into the night as we danced around the “flying saucer.”

J’ai rencontré M. Chirac aux J.O. de Los Angeles en 1984 quand il est venu saluer les athlètes français Je leur servais d’interprète. Ils m’ont invitée à participer à la cérémonie de clôture…mémorable.. lorsque qu’une soucoupe volante a atteri devant nous, avec, comme “pilote” Lionel Ritchie qui chantait “All Night Long.”  Avec tous les J.O., il se passe un festival artistique international. J’ai eu la chance de travailler avec Ariane Mnouchkine du Théatre du Soleil qui donnait une de ses premières représentations aux Etats Unis..Nous avons parcouru tout Los Angeles pour trouver des kilomètres de soie naturelle pour leur toile de fond. J’ai hérité de bouteilles de vin olympique.

Few realize that along with the Olympic games comes a gathering of artists, actors, musicians, from around the globe. In 1984, that meant more than 400 performances by 145 theater, dance and music companies, representing every continent and 18 countries. That year I discovered the  Theatre du Soleil, a French kabuki theater company who needed hundreds of yards of pure silk for their backdrop. The French team left me with cases of their very own Olympic wine (they were the only ones to bring their own crémant label (champagne). I still have stacks of stationery bearing the COQ SPORTIF logo!

After escorting members of the media around LA, and watching them at “work”, I decided to pursue writing as a career. 1984 was a turning point.
Apres avoir servi d’interprète aux membres de la presse internationale, j’ai décidé de me lancer dans le journalisme. Et voilà comment tout a commencé pour moi.

Speaking of the Olympics, I have a collection of French pins, all bearing the COQ SPORTIF logo.
Does anyone know of a collector interested in French Olympic pins?.
E-Mail me for details if you are interested.

Je voudrais vendre des pins olympiques français qui datent de 1984. Connaitriez-vous un collectionneur?
Deux examples. J’en ai plus…

 

Barcelona (suite et fin): La Boqueria
Heavenly tapas; paradis des tapas

 

I spent 2 delicious days in Barcelona on my way back from Morocco last May.
NO wonder the city is one of the most visited in the world.  And the food! … Be forewarned upon entering La Boqueria, Barcelona’s binge-inducing public market: Go hungry, zip up your pockets, and hang on to your iPhone. In spite of the masses of people, La Boqueria proved to be a highlight of my brief visit. The entrance to this city landmark is just off Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s renowned tree-shaded pedestrian thoroughfare. Smoothies, chocolate covered strawberries, jamon serrano, Manchego cheese, fried calamari, and tapas galore… need I say more?

Can you smell the garlic?

I was headed to l’Ampolla, two hours to the south,  to visit a friend of mine. (Les vacanciers français connaissent bien l’Ampolla) I couldn’t even find mention of this diminutive Catalonian beach town in guidebooks. Immediately after landing, I took a taxi to Barcelona’s main train station, to hop on the train to Tarragona, as advised: “You will see the stops listed on the overhead electronic billboard,” said the ticket vendor…Really? After 2 or 3 stations, I realized the electronic loop was stuck: the same station came up time and again! So, fellow travelers were kind enough to tell me when I should get off. Ah! The delights of Spanish trains… memorize your itinerary and your stop beforehand.

L’Ampolla:

So tiny is the town that it merits barely a 3 mn stop on the train (to Tarragona). (Attention, à l’Ampolla, le train ne s’arrête que 3 minutes. Pas de taxis ni de bus) No taxis, no buses, but a lovely waterfront. It is also the gateway to the Rio Ebre estuary, home to pink  flamingoes and famous OYSTERBEDS: Les parcs à huitres de l’Ampolla sont connus de toute l’Europe, et surtout, des français. L’Ampolla is Catalan for ”cruet” and so, my friend and I headed for the far reaches of the “cruet” to the oyster and mussel farm of Mirador de la badia
( http://miradorbadia.com) at the mouth of the Rio Ebre. Here, the mingling of waters from the Rio EBRO (in Spanish) and the warm Mediterranean create the mellow environment for l’Ampolla’s claim to fame. The shellfish’s mild flavor derives from the unique combination of salt water with the nutrient-rich fresh waters of the river.


Heaven= freshly shucked oysters and a LITER of cava (Spanish champagne)

This is also home to one of Spain’s largest rice growing regions (L’embouchure du Rio Ebre est aussi le pays des rizières) where paddies attract flocks of migrating PINK FLAMINGOES on their way to Africa: Bird Watchers, take note!

CLOSER TO HOME:  Une route historique en Californie. La route US 395 longe le côté est des sierras (vers Death Valley et Yosemite) avec touristes français en abondance. .

We recently took a drive up highway 395, the historic road that hugs the Eastern sierras (past Mt Whitney, the highest summit of the Sierra Nevada, and the contiguous United States.) I wanted to see Fall foliage, and leaves turning, a rare sight in the southern part of the state. We did find a few gold-colored leaves, but more exciting was discovering the historic sites along the way: from the ghost town of Randsburg (Ville fantôme extra) east of Los Angeles, to Ridgecrest, home to the famed China Lake military base and the Maturango Museum (https://maturango.org/ ) featuring Coso petroglyphs of the Northern Mojave Desert Tour. Here too, you will find the Death Valley Tourist Center. The most moving national park/museum came a little farther north at Manzanar National Historic Site (https://www.nps.gov/manz/index) , a couple of miles south of Independence. My interest in the site was parked by an exhibit at the California Center for the Arts last year, which commemorated the history of this American tragedy along with exhibits and photographs of Manzanar by Ansel Adams. More than 10,000 internees were summarily ordered to leave Southern California.

From the Manzanar website: “Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps at which Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were incarcerated during World War II.” Located at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada in eastern California’s Owens Valley, Manzanar has been identified as the best preserved of these camps…We elected to explore the park (about 1 square mile) on foot, so

we could step inside reconstructed barracks where families shared a few square feet of living space, view the remnants of an episcopal church and a Buddhist temple, traces of a baseball diamond, and the elaborate Japanese gardens created by internees. The experience was at once soul-enriching and heart-wrenching—an episode of 20th century American history that is often overlooked.

A few miles up the road, we came upon Independence, CA. Mind you, I had never heard of the town until a few weeks ago. Misled by Google maps which labels it as the “entrance” to Mt Whitney National Park, I delved a little further: As the crow flies, Independence is about 15 miles from Mt Whitney.. but, no way can you enter the park from the east. A 5 hour detour will lead you back to the “real” entrance, north of Bakersfield. I had already made a reservation based on TripAdvisor reviews at the historic 1927 vintage, ghost-ridden Winnedumah Hotel that once welcomed the likes of John Wayne and Bing Crosby, directly across from the old courthouse/library where Charles Manson was arraigned.

Built in 1927, the Winnedumah Hotel is under new ownership and management, and undergoing a revitalization while staying true to its origins. We were there at the start of the renovations, and many kinks remain to be worked out with the plumbing, electricity, and structure. But that doesn’t deflect from the lobby filled with authentic 1920s furniture, the period artwork, and the original grand piano. Perhaps the most surprising of all, for me, was that we kept running into French tourists. Go figure. We dined at the ONLY establishment in town, the Still Life Café, an authentic French bistro (www.facebook.com/StillLifeCafe) ½ block away, also French-owned. Another surprise. Indeed, the menu lists such classics as boeuf bourguignon and endives braisées (my favorite), French onion soup (the REAL thing) and other cuisine bourgeoise classics. The owner, Malika, who hails from Algeria and relocated here  from further south on 395, prepares everything to order. And she COOKS wearing A KAFTAN. Too much. Maman, daughter, grandchild, and grand-père all work the tiny dining room. They open when they feel like it so be sure to call ahead. Again, go figure..
Still Life Cafe 

Nos nouveaux voisins:
A new neighbor
: SandnStraw farm, Vista, CA (https://www.sandnstraw.com)

Those who have been following me for a while know of my interest in California agriculture. The California Farm Cookbook is now over 20 years old (YIKES) but my interest in family farms hasn’t waned. So I was thrilled to find a new farm down the street. This delightful venue sells garden fresh produce, and shelters a petting zoo, and homes for Stormy the Pig, goats, ducks, and sheep. For now, SandnStraw is only open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays (Check their website) There is plenty of parking, and even a picnic area.

Have you tasted this? Let me know! I haven’t made the leap!

Kitty is selling: Pls spread the word:

For STAMP COLLECTORS: This seems so archaic—collecting stamps, but I was an avid collector when I was young. These were bought in Morocco: four packets containing eight Moroccan stamps apiece were purchased in Morocco. Each set is under cellophane and holds a combination of out of circulation and contemporary stamps (some cancelled, some not). Dates range from French Protectorate days (1912 to 1956) to contemporary.

Need a gift? I’ll sign and send one of my books!
FREE SHIPPING in the US FOR EDIBLE FLOWERS ($15.95)
and
MINT TEA AND MINARETS: ($27). I only have 50 hard copies left. You can also get it as an eBook on Amazon.com.
Just send me a check or pay via Paypal. I will sign and ship the book in the US only.

Kitty is selling: I have many Moroccan handicrafs for sale. Send me an emakil, amd I will send you photo:
–brass mirrors, kaftans, vintage brass and copper plates, costume jewelry, and much more..

This pair of matching door knockers were made to order for me in Marrakech, Morocco about 30 years ago. FOR A BIG FRONT DOOR.
I thought we would use them for our front door, but my husband decided otherwise.
Very traditional design. Two separate mounts, one for each door knock. All handmade, brass, similar to the ones you see on the doors of the Royal Palace in Fez, and created by local artisans. I have never polished them, but if you do, they will shine like gold.
SOLD AS A PAIR: USD250.00
Height of Knocker: 17”
Diameter of lattice part: 8 ½ “ to 9”
Wall Mount: 7”
Small round attachment to hit:
5 “ in diameter
Brass screw: 5” long
Weight:
About 6 lbs APIECE
I will send via cheapest rate possible, OR a local pick up can be arranged upon request.

 

Voici le lien sur Amazon.com pour Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued. Vous pouvez le télécharger sur votre tablette ou votre ordi.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YYLJX2K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Le+Riad+au+bord+de+l%27oued&qid=1570749667&s

Si vous avez une petite minute, cochez le “J’aime” sur facebook. Aidez moi à faire de la pub.
Ecrivez un message sur la page Facebook du llivre. https://www.facebook.com/Le-Riad-au-Bord-de-lOued-110970043646415

News of Morocco and beyond:
Paris à bicylcette; cycle around Paris: https://www.ozy.com/acumen/biking-in-paris-is-booming-but-why/227290/?utm_term=OZY&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DD_2019_11_05&utm_content=Final

Morocco travelers! New direct flights to Morocco: Vols directs vers le Maroc à partir de Miami
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/17/travel/nonstop-flights-africa.html
In spring 2019, Royal Air Maroc offered the first Miami-to-Africa nonstop route in two decades, a direct route from Miami to Casablanca. And by next summer, fliers will be able to go nonstop from Philadelphia to Casablanca, on American Airlines’ new route (Also three times a week, but only 7 1/2 hours). In the American Airlines announcement of the new route, the Casablanca route is intended to link up with Royal Air Maroc, which will be joining the OneWorld alliance in 2020.

Français en Amerique: les immigrants français aux USA
https://france-amerique.com/fr/on-the-trail-of-french-speaking-migrants-in-north-america/

Explication de Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving/Le Jour de Merci Donnant.. pour les francophones..
Art Buchwald’ s classic explanation of Le Jour de Merci Donnant to French speakers:
lhttps://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/27/opinion/IHT-meanwhile-the-dinde-is-dandy-so-lets-give-thanks.html

All that remains is for me to wish you HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Voici le lien sur Amazon.com pour Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued. Vous pouvez le télécharger sur votre tablette ou votre ordi.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YYLJX2K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Le+Riad+au+bord+de+l%27oued&qid=1570749667&s

Kitty

 

Briouats for my hero, Neil Armstrong

Briouats for Neil Armstrong

By

Kitty Morse

As many of you know from past Kasbah Chronicle MUSINGS (March 2019), I attended SPACE CAMP on Valentine’s Day weekend 2019, and played at being an astronaut with my friend Pat McArdle, who is, like me, a space “cadet”.

This is what spurred on the whole idea:

The 50th anniversary of the landing spurred a long-held desire to attend Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.

Such was my initial fascination with the moon landing that, on D-Day, July 20, 1969, I organized a moon party in Milwaukee (WI) where I attended university, and served up a green sponge cake to family and friends. (Remember when the moon was made of green cheese?) Little did I know at the time that the Man on the Mon himself would appear at my doorstep decades later.

I had picked up a brochure advertising Space Camp in 1996. Each year since, I added it to my bucket list and slipped it under my desk calendar. The time had come to act! I called the number on the faded brochure. Yes! Adult Space Academy (US Space and Rocket Center(www.spacecamp.com) offered adult weekends of astronaut training. A fellow space junkie joined me in my lunar fantasies and we booked a fight to Huntsville.

Space Camp, aka www.RocketCenter.com, is the brainchild of rocket scientist Dr. Werner von Braun who spearheaded the development of the Apollo-era rockets that took America to the moon, and his colleague Edward Buckbee, the camp’s first director. Indeed, the Huntsville site counts a number of astronauts, engineers, and space scientists among its alumni, as well as among its docents.

The 363-foot-tall replica of the Saturn V moon rocket, visible for miles across the flat Alabama landscape, serves as a beacon for Space Camp. Upon arrival, we checked in at Habitats for Space Camp, a building resembling a well-fed caterpillar, to claim our bunk beds, before heading out across Tranquility Base where the enormous Pathfinder shuttle simulator and Saturn V, hold center court.

Our lunar-centric program kept us on the go from 7:30 in the morning until 9 at night. Over two-and-a-half days, we bonded with the dozen millennial members of our Team Pioneer, directed a simulated shuttle landing, bounced off bungee cords to experience lunar gravity, built a model rocket, and explored the nooks and crannies of the Space Station. We had the opportunity to tour NASA’s (real) Marshall Space Flight Center where scientists are in constant contact with the International Space Station.

The highlight was taking part in the Extra Vehicular Activity (pardon me, the EVA) which mirrored the Hughes Westar Satellite Repair spacewalk, an actual mission performed in 1984 to repair a communications satellite and replace the antennas to restore communication.

For that, two experienced attendants helped me into an ice jacket (the space suit is so hot that astronauts need to wear such a clothing item for an extended mission), and then into a space suit and helmet. The extra 15 pounds of ice made it somewhat arduous to crawl out into ‘space’ where I was tethered to a harness about 15 feet off the ground. My mission was to pull myself along a cable encircling the satellite, retrieve a malfunctioning antenna, and hand it to my partner who stood on a mechanical limb 20 feet off the ground.

The next morning, we breakfasted at the Mars Grill in the company of former NASA scientists and engineers, one of whom had designed the lunar rovers used during several moonshots. Both the Lunar Rover and the Saturn V Apollo moon rocket are on display inside the hangar-like Saturn V Hall of the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. We were left awestruck in front of the extraterrestrial accomplishments of Neil Armstrong and his moon bound colleagues.

Barely a dozen years earlier, I had the good fortune to meet the “man on the moon” in person on my home turf in Vista, CA. Friday April 20, 2005, we received a call from our neighbor, Bob H., a distinguished retired Marine test pilot.

“We are expecting a special guest. Would you like to come over for drinks?” Neil Armstrong and Bob were roommates in flight school and their friendship went back decades. The astronaut was to drop by Bob’s on his way to accepting an award from the Golden Eagles, a prestigious association of military flyers. That year, the organization was holding its annual meeting in San Diego.

Needless to say, my anticipation reached its peak when we knocked on Bob’s door. He had advised us not to allude to the moon landing. Neil had had enough of the world’s attention (we later learned that a barber had been selling locks of the astronaut’s hair on eBay). Neither should we ask him to pose for pictures (though Neil later broke his rule for us.)

“Hi, I am Neil Armstrong,” said the man himself, as he stood up to shake our hands.

His broad built came as a surprise. In my mind’s eye, he was still the youthful, slender astronaut who first stepped onto the lunar surface and declared to a transfixed planet earth glued to millions of television screens:

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Decades on, I faced a grey-haired man in his sixties, wearing coat and tie. His eyes sparkled behind his glasses. He looked unmistakably like the younger Neil Armstrong.

“Hi, I’m Kitty Morse,” I stuttered, almost mute with awe.

My husband, more quick-witted than I, had his opening message ready:

Hi!” he said, shaking Neil’s hand. “Neil, I have had a mound of trouble trying to coax your former roommate out of his shell!” Bob, of course, being the quintessential extrovert.

“Well, that must have taken all of five minutes,” responded our visitor with a chuckle. Our former neighbor, Bob, was probably one of the most gregarious men we had ever met. At one point, knowing I was born in Morocco, the astronaut broached the subject of Moroccan cuisine. He was an avid golfer who had been a guest of the King of Morocco on numerous occasions. Indeed, Hassan II, father of present King Mohammed VI, appointed Armstrong to the Moroccan Academy of Sciences. Thus, the astronaut had visited my home turf a number of times. He sampled my briouats (Moroccan eggrolls): “My, these are tasty,” he said. “Do Moroccans use curry?” I explained as diplomatically as I could that curry is not a spice in the Moroccan repertoire. No matter. My hero reached for another briouat.

I floated on air on my walk home. The phone rang as soon as we stepped inside our front door. It was Bob.

“Hey, neighbors! Neil really enjoyed his visit with you. Could he come over and have his picture taken with you two?”

“Wait! Let me check my watch: “OK!” Owen and I floated off into “space” with excitement.

Briouats served to Neil Armstrong!

For about 24 (2  /12-inch) briouats:

3 boneless chicken thighs

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger powder

½ medium onion, diced

½ cup water

1 egg, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

15 sprigs cilantro, minced

½  a preserved lemon, rind finely diced

8 lumpia wrappers or thickest quality phyllo dough,  (available in specialty stores, Arab markets, Asian markets, and many large supermarkets in the fresh Asian ingredients section)

Oil for frying

In a medium saucepan, place the thighs, cinnamon, ginger, onion and water. Cook over medium heat, turning the thighs over to coat with spices, for 15 to 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a cutting board. Let cool and finely chop the chicken.

To the pan, add the beaten egg. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and the egg sets. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sauce to the chopped chicken. Add the cilantro and the preserved lemon. Mix well. Set aside.

Stack 3 lumpia wrappers. Cut into strips 2  ½-inch wide. Proceed in a similar manner for the remaining wrappers. Stack the strips on top of each other and keep them covered with plastic wrap or a lightly dampened cloth to prevent drying while filling the briouats.

Place 1 teaspoon of the filling about 1 inch from the bottom edge of the strip. Fold a corner of the strip so the bottom edge lies diagonally across half of the filling, but NOT flush with the long edge. Fold over to the opposite side, this time, flush with the long edge, as you would a flag.  Fold side to side until you reach the top of the strip, to obtain a triangular shape. Tuck the unused end of the strip inside the last fold. Repeat with remaining strips until all the filling has been used.

At this point, briouats can be frozen. Place on a tray and freeze. Transfer to a tightly sealed container. Freeze up to 3 months.

To fry, do not thaw. In a heavy medium saucepan, pour the oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat it until it reaches 325 degrees F, or until a piece of dough dropped into it sizzles instantly. Fry the briouats in batches until golden, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep warm in the oven. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of lemon juice.

 

All text and photos copyright Kitty Morse 2019