Category Archives: My Morocco Page

“Is Israeli couscous really couscous? Aie Aie Aie “besteeya”

The Kasbah Chronicles July 2018: More Vietnam and more Morocco!

 

June and July 2018
LA VACHE QUI RIT IS EVERYWHERE!

A Vietnamese snack…

MUSINGS
. . . more Vietnam adventures
When in Hue, head for Han’s
You missed a good one: Book Club Bingo and Novel Network
California Center for the Arts: Watercolor Show
Got art? Need frames?
Very, very cool: radio stations around the world
Cookbook collectors: get organized
Talks and presentations
Lots of interesting links en français
and in English
Tipping remains a mystery? Here’s help.

Matisha thrives!


Spanish Potato Tortilla..with tomatoes

Musings:

As I write, the 12 young soccer players and their coach have been extricated from that ghastly Thai cave. Thank Goodness the divers succeeded. The far away drama took our minds of dramatic political events closer to home. And then the peripatetic Anthony Bourdain decided to take his own life. I don’t know about you, but my brain is exhausted. What else is there to do but carry on!

Last month,  I left you in Hanoi.. Today, let me take you to Hue:

This former Imperial City and now a World Heritage Site, lies midway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon.) Its imposing Chinese Citadel suffered major damage during the “American War” and is undergoing extensive Unesco-funded restoration. Less known to the outside world, is that Hue is renowned for its cuisine. When in Hue, head for Han’s and sit down among the locals for a memorable lunch:

Then take part in Being like a farmer at Eco Garden. We began with a leisurely bicycle ride among orchards of pumelos and rice paddies of Thyu Bieu village a few miles outside of town.

After our bike escapade, we donned the outfits of a Vietnamese farmer, complete with brown baggy pants, loose shirt, and coolie hat, before trying our hands at milling rice. I tried in vain to manipulate the grindstone and sift the rice meal. . . not possible. Before long, we were hard at work digging for sweet potatoes along the banks of the Perfume River. Later, we savored the fruits of our labor at dinner served under a thatched-roof hut and a cacophony of cicadas.

The next morning a mini cruise on the Perfume River was capped with a cooking class at the Hue EcoLodge.

Clad in EcoLodge aprons, and inspired by the scent of grilling pork kabobs marinated in lemongrass and stir-fried green beans fresh from the lodge’s garden plots, we followed the instructions of our young instructor. As I bit into a warm bite of the sweet potato we had just dug up, it occurred to me that the Hue Ecolodge may be riding the crest of a new food trend: Farm-to-Chopsticks

 Suite au prochain numéro (next time): low-key, historic Hoi An..

I came across this site par hasard earlier a few weeks ago. In case you missed their review of Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories, a couple of years ago, here it is. FYI: Alimentum is one of the best sites for food literature on the web. Thank you Alimentum

http://www.alimentumjournal.com/review-of-mint-tea-minarets-b/#.Wxfu04plCfA

Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories

“… But if you don’t cook Moroccan at home, are not near a Moroccan restaurant, and are nowhere near Morocco, you can still smell the aromas, feel the air and atmosphere, hear the languages of both Arabic and French, by opening a book: Kitty Morse’s Mint Tea and Minarets.

Ms. Morse was born in Casablanca and spent her growing-up years there. Her father was English, her mother French. So her perspective straddles both Western and North African customs. Her newest book (she’s written many) is an exotic yet personal memoir festooned with spectacular recipes.

Ms. Morse journeys back to her family’s home just outside Casablanca. She has a mission: to sprinkle her father’s ashes in the river near Dar Zitoun (the name of her family home) and to transfer the title of the property from her father to herself. Both activities come with a full set of red tape that puts Ms. Morse through an obstacle course filled with cultural antiquity and modern day greed. The true colors and characters of Morocco emerge. This is at once familiar, frustrating, and endearing to Ms. Morse. Her endeavors bring her back in contact with a large part of her identity—a part she treasures and needs. The longer she stays, the more she is drawn back into this unique lifestyle. And its food. ..”

New this month: My editor and I are hard at work turning Mint Tea and Minarets into an eBook downloadable on Kindle and all other platforms. I am very excited since I only have 120 hard copies left.. with no thought of reprint. .

Stay tuned! Use your KINDLE!
Kitty in the media:

Seasonal Pantry: How to make a Middle Eastern feast

Santa Rosa Press Democrat

This one is inspired by a recipe in “Cooking At the Kasbah: Recipes From My Moroccan Kitchen” by Kitty Morse (Chronicle Books, 1998, $22.95). NOW IN ITSTENTH PRINTING!

Kitty’s next presentation:

I love our local libraries. They serve as community centers for all age groups rather than as just a depository for books. And librarians are models of patience. Last week, I was invited by the Poway Public library. Thank you for the lovely welcome!

On July 25th, at 1PM, catch me at the San Marcos Public library for a talk (and food samplings) on Mint Tea and Minarets. It’s fun, educational, and air conditioned! And need I add, FREE of charge!

For information:

2 Civic Center Drive

San Marcos, CA 92069

(760) 891-3000

New art exhibit in Escondido:

The California Center for the Arts in Escondido (I am a docent there, book a private tour!)is holding its upcoming exhibition beginning July 14 to August 26th.

The American Watercolor Society 151st Traveling exhibition and local color.http://artcenter.org/museum/

Amis français, le saviez-vous:

French school named for North County D-Day veteran

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/columnists/logan-jenkins/sd-me-jenkins-france-20180601-story.html

“…. une école a mon nom. . . ..from our own North San Diego County….who knew??

Book clubs: Have you checked out Novel Network? In the last Chronicles, I announced that I participated, along with 22 other writers, in Book Club Bingo, an event organized by the newly formed Novel Network and Adventures by the Book. You missed a good one! Close to 100 participants gathered on the top floor of San Diego’s architectural wonder, our Central Library, for a day of seminars, meet and greets with authors, a luscious box lunch, and networking galore. This is the brilliant concept: Book clubs register for free on the Novel Network website, look for an author (now at 45 and increasing) and book their favorite. Voila… I can also conduct SKYPE interviews no matter where your club meets!    Ever thought of writing a family cookbook? I can help you with that too!


Got Art? Need frames?

Just to let you know we have a wonderful frame shop right here, in Vista. The gifted Gina of Art and Frame Studio, 610 E. Vista Way (760)806-7777 (same parking lot as Chin’s restaurant) carries a wide assortment of frames. She just reframed a half-dozen pictures for me, and I am thrilled.

Links of interest about Morocco and elsewhere:

An addictive site: Live music streaming from stations around the world

http://radio.garden/live/vancouver and elsewhere

For a laugh and an education! Accents around the world

https://localingual.com/?ISO=FR

Cookbook collectors may find this of interest: Organize your collection. . .  I have always wondered how to do that…

https://www.aspentimes.com/news/weekly/modern-familycookbook-collections-get-user-friendly-thanks-to-tech
 
CELL PHONES IN CLASSROOMS? What do you think?? Teachers, especially?
 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/07/french-school-students-to-be-banned-from-using-mobile-phones?CMP=share_btn_link

The Beat Generation in Tangier:

Vous les connaissez ces messieurs-dames?

Sooooo condescending from my point of view. Didn’t they have anything better to do, surrounded by maids, cooks, drivers, and who knows what other kind of help, but smoke, drink, get high, and criticize the “natives”? Is that what makes a literary icon?

https://lepetitjournal.com/casablanca/le-saviez-vous-quand-tanger-accueillait-la-beat-generation-231531

Les courses automobiles à Casa dans les années 50,

When I was growing up in Casablanca, my father helped organize car races. Remember Sterling Moss? I recall the cars roaring along the Corniche and meeting the famed racer: who does these days?

https://lepetitjournal.com/casablanca/le-saviez-vous-quand-le-maroc-organisait-son-grand-prix-de-formule-1-231372

 Zagora, in the Moroccan Sahara. We hunted far and low for medfouna (meaning: hidden) which I managed to track down (this was in 1970), and adapt for my first cookbook, Come with me to the Kasbah: A Cook’s tour of Morocco. Sort of a cross between stuffed pizza and calzone. . .

http://www.bbc.com/travel/gallery/20180122-madfouna-moroccos-surprising-take-on-pizza

IS the US a visa free country?

https://www.passportindex.org/?country=us

Incroyable mais vrai? Et honteux….And I thought being bilingual was an advantage:

https://www.theguardian.com/us/news/2018/may/22/speaking-spanish-dangerous-america-aaron-schlossberg-ice?

France: Dommage, les bons petits bistros disparaissent. . .

Les petits bistros de quartier disparaissent : https://france-amerique.com/fr/parisian-bistros-appeal-for-unesco-world-heritage-status/?

Meanwhile in Tunisia, where I spent many weeks researching recipes for my book,The Vegetarian Table: North Africa (Chronicle Books)

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/may/02/return-to-tunis-why-now-is-the-time-to-visit-this-historic-city? (Actually, Tunis looks much like Casablanca, a treasure trove of Moorish Art deco architecture. Sidi Bou Said, on the sea, is charming! It is VERY VERY hot in Tunis in the summer)

And in 2016, Tunisia ranked 62nd on the Global Entrepreneurship Index. Today it ranks 40th worldwide and is No. 1 in Africa for entrepreneurs.

https://www.ozy.com/acumen/the-unlikely-hotbed-for-african-entrepreneurs/86977

Bravo to Khaled Bouchoucha who started his career working on planes – now he’s running a startup that optimizes the health of hives. https://www.ozy.com/rising-stars/the-data-engineer-on-a-mission-to-save-tunisias-bees/87037

 Confused about tipping? I am. Here is a possible guide.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/10-confusing-tipping-situations_us

Has anyone cooked with this? I haven’t tried it yet. I have to laugh though: you have to purchase most ingredients to take advantage of the barley inside the packet?





To keep you cool, a Vietnamese drink!

Bismillah
and Bon appétit.

Kitty

 

 

The Kasbah Chronicles Feb 2018 edition: It’s the process

The Kasbah Chronicles
February 2018 edition

 Happy Valentine’s DayCONTENTS:
Musings:
Note to self: It’s the process. . . .stoopid….

Last call for Niki de St Phalle
at the Escondido Center for the Arts.

I am off to Vietnam in April:
any insights or special addresses to share?

It’s happening!  Edible Flowers: a Kitchen Companion is now an eBook.
Download through Amazon.com

Kitty’s presentations and bookings:
LIFE, Mira Costa College
Poway Library
Does your club or group need a speaker this summer? Call me!

Bravo to my creative colleagues: Nan, Susan and Naz

Travel: News of Morocco and beyond

A world of local food from Peru to Mexico and Vietnam
Pisco Restaurant Review

A reader’s insights on the InstantPot pressure cooker.

Musings:

As I muse…. and sifted through eFiles, I realized with a start that The Kasbah Chronicles is now entering its tenth year. Pas croyable. Ten years of sharing news of San Diego County, Morocco, and beyond. Whatever made me think, à l’origine, that anyone would read it? And read it some of you do, judging from your encouraging feedback. For me, a great part of sharing this information comes down to . . . It’s the process….stoopid...: Why am I compelled to jot words on “paper,” electronic or otherwise. I can’t explain! Neck ache, backache and all, typing standing up… I love sharing my musings with all of you. So merci and thank you for reading.

Last call for Niki de St Phalle exhibit!!
I have been going on and on about the Niki de St Phalle exhibit at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, a milestone for the center. The show celebrates the 15th year of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle (www.queencalifia.org) the only public park of its kind in the US. The show ends on March 4th, so hurry and call up to make a reservation for a docent-led tour. The exhibit is paired with A Mosaic Invitational, featuring masterful mosaic works by local artists. Speaking of mosaics, did you know: San Diego Historic Tile and Ceramics Self Guided Tour map showcases mosaics from Balboa Park and Downtown with sites from the House of Hospitality to Little Italy.
It was my pleasure to introduce Niki and her nanas to high school students from La Jolla Country Day last week… best of all EN FRANCAIS!!
View the video here:
 https://www.facebook.com/theCCAE/videos/10155444625709370/
Instagram :  https://www.instagram.com/theccae/
To book a tour contact Arts Education Program Supervisor, Kirsten Barrientes at 760-839-4176 or kbarrientes@artcenter.org

Eva Struble, a professor in the school of Art and Design at San Diego State, was invited to show her work in conjunction with the exhibit. Cover Crops reflects her interest in San Diego County farms. Eva’s talk, free and open to the public, was co-sponsored by Edible San Diego magazine http://ediblesandiego.ediblecommunities.com. The show reflects two of my own passions: one for art (food of course) and the other for California farms. Coastal Roots, Solidarity, and Terra Madre farms were her inspiration.

Visit Edible San Diego magazine’s excellent website for up to date information on San Diego’s food scene: http://ediblesandiego.ediblecommunities.com/drink/guide-wineries-san-diego-county

Please share with your friends:
Exciting news on the book front: Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion is now an eBook, easily downloaded on Amazon. If the book isn’t up yet, please try again. I am dealing with a national distributor in Chicago. https://www.amazon.com/Edible-Flowers-Companion-Kitty-Morse-ebook

Classes and presentations;
Do you know about L.I.F.E, LEARNING IS FOR EVERYONE, a program of lifelong learning at Mira Costa College? If not, here is their site http://www.miracosta.edu/community/LIFE. I will be the featured speaker on edible flowers, on Friday, Match 16th. Free and open to the public

I will be at the Poway Library in July…I am available for speaking engagements throughout the summer from May 2018 on (after my trip to Vietnam.)

About Morocco and beyond:
An encouraging economic update for Morocco:
http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/the-new-emerging-african-power-morocco/83279

The fastest train in Africa zips through the Moroccan countryside.
http://fr.le360.ma/economie/video-le-maroc-bat-le-record-de-vitesse-sur-rail-en-afrique-154175

Should couscous be classified as a World Heritage item? Mais oui, bien sûr.
https://lepetitjournal.com/casablanca/actualites/couscous-bientot-au-patrimoine-mondial-de-lunesco-222918

GOOD news for travelers. US State Dept says  Morocco is among the safest, alongside Canada, Norway etc, . . . https://lepetitjournal.com/casablanca/actualites/voyage-le-maroc-parmi-les-pays-surs-des-americains-222934

Pour les voyageurs américains, le gouvernement de Washington a classé les pays du monde en quatre catégories : ‘‘Pays considérés comme sûrs’’, ‘‘Pays où la prudence est recommandée’’, ‘‘Etes-vous sûrs de vouloir visiter ce pays’’ et ‘‘Vous allez dans ce pays à vos risques et périls’’. Et le Maroc figure dans le 1ère catégorie en compagnie de pays comme le Canada, Islande, Norvège, Suède, Finlande, Irlande, Monaco, Suisse, Liechtenstein… Quant aux voisins algériens, tunisiens et égyptiens, ils figurent dans la catégorie ‘‘Pays où la prudence est recommandée’’.

Why I LOVE love Spain! It’s almost HOME!! And their manchego? The cheese in Spain stays mainly in the . . . .
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/15/spain-mexico-trade-deal-manchego-cheese-dispute?

Meawhile, camels (really dromedaries) take part in a Saudi beauty contest:
https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-01-26/what-camel-beauty-contest-can-tell-us-about-future-saudi-arabia?

and in Hollywood, les français et les Oscars: La French touch aux Oscars, NINE French-inspired nominations. . .
https://france-amerique.com/fr/the-french-touch-at-the-oscars/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_5_octobre_2017)
and
Bessie Coleman: les ailes noires en France
https://france-amerique.com/fr/bessie-coleman-black-wings-over-france/

Ca alors, what next for the French language??
https://lepetitjournal.com/leila-slimani-mme-francophonie-de-macron-veut-deringardiser-le-francais-220888
Leïla Slimani, “Mme Francophonie” de Macron, veut “déringardiser le français” (wants to update the French language), and make it one of the top three languages in the world. .
‘Le français “pourrait” en effet devenir la deuxième langue internationale, derrière l’anglais. Elle est la quatrième aujourd’hui, devancée par l’espagnol et l’arabe. Mais cela ne pourra être que “si les efforts en faveur de l’éducation des pays francophones sont suffisants”,

Ever wonder about air kissing? Pourquoi se fait-on la bise ?
https://lepetitjournal.com/shanghai/communaute/bise-pourquoi-france
La bise est une coutume typiquement française ( a French custom). . . .

Anthony Bourdain’s reading list is eclectic!

Check out my creative colleagues:
Sally Bernstein and her newsletter:
http://www.sallybernstein.com/food/chefs-corner/mailorder_books.htm

Nan Sterman, host of A Growing Passion (http://agrowingpassion.com) on KPBS holds classes around the county to help you jump start your spring plantings. Join Nan for a hands-on workshop where you will plant your entire summer vegetable garden in just two hours. Nan provides the supplies – you take home the plants seeded and ready to sprout info@PlantSoup.com

Susan McBeth, the brainchild behind Adventures by the Book, whose mission is to link authors and readers, launches a nationwide adventure: NovelNetwork… https://novelnetwork.com/author-membership/
Book clubs, register to find an author/speaker. Authors, register to let book clubs know you are available as a speaker.

After founding a company that paired consumers with farmers around the county, Naz Athina Kallel, is launching a “Craigs List” for food lovers. Save Good Food http://savegoodfood.com is San Diego’s Food & Beverages Classifieds for Farms, Chefs, Brewers, Winemakers and Artisan Food Makers. Chefs, farmers, fishermen, ranchers, restaurant owners, artisan food & beverage makers, brewers, wine makers, event planners, purveyors will find a powerful social platform for buying, selling, collaborating and investing in local food. First 3 months free and then only $10 per month for unlimited ads for sellers. Buyers always free.

My new favorite snack:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts


One restaurant  Happy Hour featured these addictive sprouts, all for the unbelievably “low price” of $7.99. $7.99? I decided to make them myself:
Buy Brussels Sprouts
Trim outer leaves
Cut sprouts in half
Parboil in boiling water 1 to 2 mns
Drain
Pour into a large baking dish
Sprinkle with olive oil and garlic
Roast for 25 minutes, turning once.
Snack. (Better than chocolate truffles, and lo-cal)

San Diego’s multicultural North County:
No need to drive down to San Diego’s Asian shopping district on Convoy Street. Just head to 840 East Valley Parkway to find Cho Viet Nam (aka: The Asian Market and formerly La Sorpresa Barata, don’t you love it) a large market stocking Asian specialties. The adjoining take out, So’n Tra, offers excellent banh mi sandwiches, authentic and flavorful eggrolls much like the “nem” I grew up on in Casablanca (there is a thriving French speaking Vietnamese community in Morocco.)

And for good measure, a new Peruvian restaurant opened in the North County, off Palomar Airport Road, close to Legoland CA. Pisco took over the space Sammy’s Pizza occupied, and has the same owner. I have never met Sammy Ladecky but that man has a palate that never misses. The first time I tasted his roast chicken, I knew the flavorings were Middle Eastern. This time, he heads south: Pisco is named for the national drink of Peru (and Chile, depending upon who you talk to), and Peruvian flavors fill the menu. From excellent Chicken Empanadas, and leche de Tigre… an excellent ceviche, though, in my view, lacking in the bolder flavors of “our” Mexican ceviches. I sampled a Peruvian ceviche in Chile (where Peruvian cuisine is considered “haute”) and noticed the same thing. I loved Pisco’s papas a la huancaina, and the classic drink of Pisco Sour with crème de banane and strawberry puree tastes like dessert. A riot of a treat for anyone having a birthday is a MOUNTAIN of cotton candy. Definitely a place to try. However, I will not abandon the old Sammy’s and its terrific thin-crusted pizzas. www.piscorotisserie.com

Aren’t we cosmopolitan?!
Egypt comes to Quail Botanic Gardens: UNTIL MARCH 31, 2018 at the San Diego Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024
For the second year, the tapestries from the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre in Egypt will be on display. The Egyptian artists vividly celebrate the flowers of the desert, villages, and Nile River in their work . . . Fifteen wool tapestries and twenty cotton weavings will be on display in the Ecke Building at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. Admission/Cost: $14

Reprinted with permission:
Joy, a longtime Kasbah Chronicle reader allowed me to reprint this letter. She is an advocate of the new Instant pot, an implement which I have not even SEEN yet! Some of you may find her input of interest. This is a SERIOUS cook who makes her OWN MOROCCAN OUARKA dough!

Date: Mon, January 01, 2018 9:55 am
To: info@mintteaandminarets.com
Happy New Year, Kitty! Thanks for another wonderful year of Moroccan email goodies.
 I am now the owner of 2 electric pressure cookers, a Power Pressure Cooker 10 quart for the last year or so, and an Instant Pot 8 quart (for this Christmas). A most wonderful 7+ vegetable Berber Tagine recipe I saw on YouTube comes out perfect in about 5 minutes or less. For the chicken variation I brown the chicken first so it is at least half cooked because raw chicken pieces cook in 10 minutes and I don’t want the veggies to be over done, so if I brown them first it is all finished in 5 minutes or less. Yum!!!
You have mentioned in the past that modern Moroccan cooks often resort to their pressure cookers. Perhaps this year on Kasbah Chronicles you could share some recipes using that technique as it is done in Morocco. Of course the Moroccan cookers are probably stovetop versions, but the new electric cookers are amazing doing things that stovetop cookers can’t do because stovetops take more water to run them and the pressures are higher than an electric cooker. For the electric cookers, think “baked” ziti put in dry out of the box and yummy cheesy goodness after an 8 minute cycle (also lasagna with normal noodles dry out of the box), perfect hard boiled eggs on a 6 minute cycle, soups in 10-15 minutes, dry beans without soaking in 15-40 minutes, steamed flans in 15-20 min etc etc. 5 minutes was a little too long for my pre-browned chicken tagine, 4 minutes would have been better.
If you don’t have one of these yet, it will revolutionize your life in the kitchen. I would suggest the Instant Pot or the Power Pressure Cooker (“PPXL”), both run at the same psi pressure ranges 10.2-11.6 and around 7.2. but the PPXL also has a 3.2 psi slow cooker cycle. The Instant Pots default to the higher pressure settings for their presets, and the PPXL defaults to the lower pressure settings for their presets which I like better, but either can be done with either. All the presets are just different times for the default psi’s. High pressure on the PPXL is the “Canning cycle”, the Instant Pot allows to choose high or low pressure with a pressure toggle button, but the result is the same.  Many other electric cookers default to 5psi and 10 psi which is not as versatile and takes lots longer. If you already have one, share with us some Moroccan pressure cooker faves!
J.

The Kasbah Chronicles November 2017: New York, Catalina, and much more

The Kasbah Chronicles: November 2017

Kitty travels Afar and Afield

Lady Liberty upon my first visit to New York in 1961:

Merci, Statue of Liberty


New York today

The new World Trade Center slices through the clouds like a silver blade

CONTENTS:
Musings on New York and elsewhere9/11 Memorial
Discovering Harlem
Grazing New York: Harlem Shambles, Eataly, Murray’s Cheese, FishsEddy, Grand Central Market and more
Rodin and Gertrude Stein
Walking through Brooklyn Heights
Overheard in Flushing, NY
Dia de los Muertos in Escondido, CA
A hop to Avalon on Catalina Island
Recipe: Pumpkin Garbanzo Bean Soup
Mail order gifts
Moroccan pastries made in the USA!
How to help Sonoma winemakers recovering from the fires (après les incendies de la Californie du Nord)
Classes and presentations
News of Morocco and beyond

Art Buchwald’s famous column on Kilometre Deboutish (aka Miles Standish) explique pourquoi nous celebrons Thanksgiving, le Jour de Merci Donnant (voir ci-dessoous.)

Musings:
Afar and Afield in New York City and
Avalon, CA.
Return to New York

As always, it seems I just wrote my last edition of the Kasbah Chronicles, but two months have already gone by. So Happy Thanksgiving! It is Thanksgiving eve and 85 degreesI love a little chill in the air, and even snow on the ground at Thanksgiving. But not in these parts.

This afternoon I remain bemused and befuddled at the administration’s decision to remove restrictions on the importation of African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, and allow more big game hunting there. Can anyone explain to me how a country in ruins like Zimbabwe can honestly manage its conservation program? Fortunately, I just heard the edict was rescinded (maybe??)

I am not here to dwell on politics but rather on my bucket list. The first destination is New York. One of my goals was to say “thank you” to the Statue of Liberty. This I did, from the deck of the Circle Line. Without her welcome and acceptance, I wouldn’t be writing to you today. My mother, brother and I were immigrants, and this is the original trunk we arrived with, on board a Yugoslav freighter loaded with cork, and in the WORST storm I have ever encountered.

By the time we entered the bay, Lady Liberty  was bathed in sunshine, just like this!

The statue viewed from the Circle Line in 2017

 

My other mission was to visit the 9/11 Memorial.


What a stunning building

The enormity of the destruction of the site, the number of lives lost, the evil cunning and planning of the perpetrators along with the heroism of first responders took on a larger-than life dimension as I stood in the footprint of the building. Hundreds of visitors from around the globe milled about in a hushed atmosphere that added to the poignancy. A wall of remembrance displayed images of the victims, and these, coupled with individual bios. So many personal tragedies on display.

The new building

New York for me also holds bucketsful of happier memories. I lived in The Big Apple for a few months in 1965, to work at the NY World’s Fair. At that time, there was nothing more exciting for a wide-eyed 18 year old than to occupy the cashier’s cage and collect entrance fees to the fake Tower of London that sheltered fake Royal Jewels. .  . in Queens, NY!! That’s when I fell in love with NY.

The city has evolved, and the BIGGEST SURPRISE was its cleanliness. My last visit, which probably took place 20 years ago, showed a New York in decline with dirty streets, crumbling buildings, and graffiti everywhere, including the subway. No more graffiti in the subway. Incroyable!

I had the good fortune of staying with my friend Vivian, a seventh-generation New Yorker, who lives in Harlem, an up and coming section of town. We walked across Barnard College (and cooled our heels a Max Caffe, a college hangout), ambled through CCNY, saw Hamilton’s home (yes, that Hamilton), which occupies a prominent hill in Hamilton Heights.

Trendy restaurants like Maison Harlem and Ponty Bistro with its French-speaking Senegalese waiters, and superstar chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s Streetbird Rôtisserie (www.streetbirdnyc.com) have all turned into gastronomic destinations. Vivian, a superb cook, shops at the famed Harlem Shambles butcher on Frederick Douglas Boulevard where we purchased merguez and a rosy breasted organic chickens as plump as a poulet de Bresse. What a thrill for me to stand under the marquee of the fabled Apollo Theatre! wwwapollotheatre.com. Harlem is a cool place!

 

Now onto more serious things:
I did manage to dash into several museums: The Rodin exhibit at the MET was as crowded as Grand Central. I wanted to see the Moroccan courtyard built by Moroccan artisans. It was a bit of a letdown for our own centuries old riad courtyard at Dar Zitoun is three times the size. The Museum of the City of NY was an eye-opener, with a tour led by a passionate docent who delighted in divulging some of the city’s darkest secrets. One day, we stumbled upon an Ai Wei Wei installation, a mesh “Arch” with two cutout figures, occupying the center of the marble arch at Washington Square Park. My favorite remains a discreet bronze statue of Gertrude Stein, holding forth in Bryant Park, behind the NY Central Library. Gertrude and I became well acquainted (on paper) during my graduate studies.

Food was never far from my thoughts, bien sûr. From Mario Batali’s lively EATALY (www.eataly.com) to the Chelsea Market, that soft scallion bun at the Chinese bakery next to the subway station on Flushing’s Main Street, and a gargantuan croque-monsieur at the Chinese-run Tous les Jours bakery, also in Flushing, NY delivered.

I am not a fan of Mario Batali’s but his idea is a great one: Across the street from the Flat Iron Building, he has assembled all foods Italian under one roof. Each stall features a specialty, from prosciutto and artisanal hams, to wheels of parmesan, fresh seafood, hand made pasta, and pastries.  Ordering at EATALY, where the posted mantra is “LIFE is too short not to EAT WELL” is in itself a New York experience. Take a seat in the eating area, until a waiter appears.
Waiter: “Talk to me.”
Me: “Excuse me?”

Waiter (brusk but pleasant, sort of): “Talk to me.”
Me: “OK” (as I finally grasped his New York speak.)
His final words when we paid the bill:
“Just another day in paradise!”

We nibbled at a generous platter of sliced prosciutto, pâté, freshly baked bread and fig preserves, and the price was very fair. Contrast that with the nearby Chelsea Market, which I found on the tacky side with its dozens of touristy boutiques lining tunnels that were once a Pillsbury Cookie Factory. My native New Yorker friend led me along Ladies’ Mile (search the origins) to Fishs Eddy (www.fishseddy.com) a very early precursor of Sur la Table, with kitchen gadgets galore (pricey!!), Murray’s Cheese (www.murrays.cheese.com), the heavenly, decades-old cheese emporium on Bleeker Street in the Village. The counter at 8PM was as crowded as on a Saturday morning. Onto nearby Joe’s Pizzeria, another New York institution and, which, according to Vivian, makes the best pizza in New York, and for good measure, the Grand Central Market and its cascades of luxurious edibles inside the station. Phew.

Vivian works in Flushing, so off to Flushing I went, on a graffiti-free subway! Eavesdropping there was a challenge since hardly Chinese and Korean prevail. As I was waiting in the doorway of Modell’s Sporting Goods (Gotta Go to Mo’s), a Flushing institution, an elderly Caucasian couple walked past me:

OVERHEARD in Flushing:
Old man: “Why should we pray for him? NO need to pray for him! He doesn’t care about anybody anyway!” Sporting a pensive look, the old lady continued shuffling her way through a tide of Asian faces…

 

We capped my visit with a hop to Brooklyn, where I had never been. We explored Brooklyn Heights, a yuppie haven of tree-lined streets and nannies pushing strollers past historic Pilgrim Church. Jacques Torres, the chocolate king, maintains a storefront here, near the very first Hagen Daaz ice cream store. A highlight was a walk along riverfront The Promenade and wilderness preserve towards the famed Carrousel. All this and the location for Moonlight, the classic movie featuring Cher, where I gazed upon the very same view of Manhattan she did.

 

 

RECIPE:
This will warm the cockles of your heart
Kitty’s Pumpkin and Tomato Soup with Garbanzo Beans
Serves 4

1 medium onion, finely diced
2 pounds butternut OR Mediterranean squash, peeled and cut into chunks
4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
5 medium tomatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons tomato paste
15 sprigs cilantro, tied with string
1 cup drained garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon cumin
2 to 3 cups chicken broth
Milk to thin soup, optional
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A touch of cayenne, for serving (optional)

In a large saucepan or soup pot, combine the broth, squash, celery, tomatoes, and cilantro. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are tender, 20 to to  25 minutes. Let cool. Discard the cilantro. In a blender or food processor, blend the vegetables and the garbanzos

In increments, adding the reserved broth a little at a time to obtain a smooth, thick puree. Return the soup to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add more broth or milk for a thinner soup, and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

 Meanwhile back in San Diego County:

 Calissons (Broadway brand!) for my maman

I flew home in time for the Dia de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead celebrations, which is turning into an ubiquitous multi-cultural ritual in our border city. I joined in at the Escondido Center for the Arts where, alongside dozens of other families, I created an “altar” to honor my mother, which, according to custom, contained one of her favorite foods: calisson cookies from Aix-en-Provence. Keep an eye out for tbeir upcoming Nikki de Saint Phalle exhibit (San Diego’s collection of her sculptures is much more impressive than what I saw at the Pompidou in Paris years ago.) I am now a docent at the California Center for the Arts and am thrilled that the center is holding an exhibit of Niki de Saint Phalle’s artwork from January 13 to March 4, 2018. Don’t miss this! Did you know she was a “local?” You are in for a treat! http://artcenter.org/museum/

A quick trip to Avalon on Catalina, allowed me to catch the Chihuly exhibit at the newly opened Catalina Island Museum. The show is over in early December, but the museum is worth the detour. As we did last time we were in Catalina 2 years ago, we lunched two days in a row at Blue Water Grill. The waterfront restaurant still offers the best value for the money on the island, and the location couldn’t be more idyllic on a sunny day: watching the waves lap at the shore through the slats in the deck as you savor an assertive Caesar salad or a bowl of addictive poke. I had no idea this was a California chain until I complimented the chef on using chermoula, the classic Moroccan marinade. I haven’t tasted their paella yet, but judging from the other dishes, it is sure to be a winner. A new Blue Water Grill is now open in Carlsbad (where Fish House Vera Cruz used to be.)

Kitty in the media: Edible Flowers
Modern Salt is one of the most literate food blogs:
http://www.modernsalt.co.uk/stories/eating-flowers-eating-beauty

Classes and presentations:
Great organization if you are a food buff.

January 20, 2018: Free and Open to the public
Tagines and Couscous: a history
10AM; San Diego Central Library
https://www.culinaryhistoriansofsandiego.com/public-meetings.html

March 2018:
LIFE, Mira Costa College
Edible Flowers
Presentation and book signing

July 2018:
Poway Library, Poway CA
A taste of Morocco
and

Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

MAIL ORDER GIFTS:

 

While in New York I met up with Mehdi Menouar, an enterprising young Moroccan businessman and founder of MESKA SWEETS, that produces REAL Moroccan pastries in New Jersey, and distributes them by mail order (www.meskasweets). I can vouch for the classy packaging and authenticity of flavors. Mehdi and his wife employ a team of bakers turn out mignardises from gazelle horns, chebakia (honey coils), feqqas (biscotti), and almond cookies according to traditional family recipes. Great gift, corporate or personal. The company contributes 5% of its proceeds to educate underprivileged Moroccans (in Morocco).

Help a Sonoma winery destroyed by fire
Ancient Oak Wine Cellars (ancientoakcellars.com)
was entirely destroyed in the Santa Rosa Fire. “On Redwood Road, there is nothing there, just flat blackened earth”, told me the mother of winemaker Melissa Moholt-Siebert. “Their website is the best place to order wine by the case or bottle,” she adds. Should you wish to contact her directly, go to: melissa@ancientoakcellars.com.
Similarly:
www.montemaggiore.com
http://www.montemaggiore.com/product/Holiday-Special-2017 makes and distributes fine wines in Northern California. Read their enlightening blog about the fires: http://www.montemaggiore.com/blog/Effects-of-the-fires-on-2017-wines

For aspiring authors:
Annie Lamott is a wonderful author who writes for and about writers. This is worth a look:
Anne Lamott: 12 truths I learned from life and writing | TED Talk | TED.com. https://www.ted.com/talks/anne_lamott_12_truths_i_learned_from_life_and_writing

News of Morocco and beyond:
The new Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech:
http://telquel.ma/2017/10/30/nous-avons-visite-le-musee-yves-saint-laurent-avec-sofia-benbrahim_1565571
and m:
http://www.azuremagazine.com/article/ysl-museum-marrakech/

Casablanca, the movie, memorialized: https://www.wsj.com/articles/commemorating-a-battle-and-bogie-

The French are coming (encore une fois)! The French are coming! https://france-amerique.com/fr/once-again-the-french-are-colonizing-quebec/
And:
And on the subject of memorials:
https://france-amerique.com/remembering-the-americans-who-gave-their-lives-for-france/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_5_octobre_2017)

Thanksgiving: Le Jour de Merci Donnant:
reprinted from the New York Times
The dinde is dandy, so let’s give thanks
By Art Buchwald
Published: Thursday, November 27, 2003

One of the most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, le Jour de Merci Donnant. . . . “Le Jour de Merci Donnant was started by a group of pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their hearts’ content. They landed at a place called Plymouth (subsequently a voiture Americaine) in a wooden sailing ship named the Mayflower, or Fleur de Mai, in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. . . .”

All that is left is for me to wish you a
HAPPY THANKSGIVING
Bismillah
and
Bon appétit

New museum openings in Morocco 2017

New museum openings in Morocco: So many it makes my head spin.
http://aujourdhui.ma/uculture
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.

http://telquel.ma/2017/07/14/robe-mondrian-marrakech-inaugurer-musee-yves-saint-laurent_1554098?utm_source=Newsletter_

http://telquel.ma/2017/07/09/route-festivals-du-mois-juillet_1553170
Morocco, land of festivals

LUCKY KIDS!
http://telquel.ma/2017/07/03/douze-etudiants-marocains-nasa-space-camp-2017_
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)
http://telquel.ma/2017/08/22/pierre-herme-le-meilleur-patissier-du-monde-prend-les-renes-de-la-patisserie-de-la-mamounia_1558414?

At the movies:
A Moroccan-American makes movies in New Orleans:
http://aujourdhui.ma/culture/cinema/qanir-represente-le-maroc-au-festival-new-orleans-film

 

Our riad, Dar Zitoun/Dar Azema is up for sale

April 2017:

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.

Please feel free to share the following link .

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

Thank you!