Category Archives: My Morocco Page

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

The Kasbah Chronicles: October November 2020

These seals at Oceanside Harbor have the right idea: Wake me up when COVID is over…

MUSINGS

The Kasbah Chronicles

Les Chroniques de la Kasbah

In English and en français

Musings

Notes on my next cookbook

A new twist on a Moroccan classic

Links of interest

News of Morocco and beyond

Improve your spoken French!

Moroccan items for sale

Musings:

In this, the ninth month of the COVID pandemic, I am at a loss for words. I cannot complain, since our Vista Kasbah is the best place for me to be sequestered—but boy, am I getting itchy feet. Yet, the idea of getting on an airplane still does not appeal to me.

Actually, the pandemic has served an exciting purpose: I have been hard at work on my next book, Bitter Sweet: legacy from my Alsatian ancestors (working title). Beautiful food photography included too!

I received an email blast from the High Atlas Foundation, a most worthy NGO in Morocco :

https://mailchi.mp/highatlasfoundation/article-reviving-a-monastery-for-community-development?e=4GUbJ49kBE. Unpublished article on Tioumliline by Lamia Radi, Rabat, Morocco.

Toumliline remains a magical name in my mind. Toum as we all called it, was a refuge for Catholic nuns in the Middle Atlas Mountains. It was a popular destination and Catholic retreat for many of my Catholic friends, especially at Easter:

“On part a Toum….” they would announce… each year.

Those among you who accompanied me to Morocco will remember the longest day of the trip as we crossed the Atlas Mountains from Fez to the oasis of Tinehrir. Half way up, Tioum hides among the forest of cedar trees not far from the snow slopes of the Mishliffen. Macaques on the way to Toum…

The very first avocado from our very own tree..

 

Let’s head to the kitchen

 new twist on egg tagine with lox

Morocco meets Brooklyn

(variations in Cooking at the Kasbah, The Vegetarian Table: North Africa and Mint Tea and Minarets.)

do you get the idea I love this egg dish?!!

Egg Tagine with Olives and lox

Serves 4

Make the tomato chermoula sauce ahead of time:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, very finely diced

1 (14¼-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

½ teaspoon sugar (optional)

10 green or purple olives, rinsed, pitted, and coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

¼ cup minced cilantro

In a tagine or medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar, olives, garlic, and bay leaf. Mash lightly with a fork. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes thicken somewhat, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Add cilantro.

Adapted from Mint Tea and  Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories.

For ONE person:

One egg, beaten

1 or 2 slices of lox, diced

Pour the egg in a small oiled skillet. Swirl around as for an omelet. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with 2 tablespoons of the chermoula, and diced salmon.

Copyright Kitty Morse 2020

More: The French are crazy about “crumbles” savory or sweet. Who knew that “crumbles” (and biscuits d’Halloween) would make such an impact?

Crumble de courgettes  au Parmesan

Serves 4

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 medium zucchini, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 T bread crumbs (or almond meal)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 4 T butter, softened
  • 4 slices of ham or prosciutto (optional), cut into ribbons

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring the oil to medium heat in a pan or skillet. Saute the zucchini slices until soft. Drain and set aside.

For the crumble, combine the flour, bread crumbs, parmesan, and salt. Add the softened butter and mix with your fingertips. Alternate layers of zucchini, and ham (if using) in a medium baking dish. Top with the crumble mixture and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

My friend Stephenie Coug

hlin, owner of Seabreeze Farm in Del Mar (CA) a mere 2 or 3 miles from the ocean, grows and delivers her own GORGEOUS produce. Heck her out!

https://csa.farmigo.com/store/seabreezed

News of Morocco, France, and beyond:

Casablanca is undergoing a renewal, and hopefully a getting a good coat of paint. We lived on Avenue Hassan II, across from the park, one the city’s main arteries. This is what our building looked like in the earl 1920s…a beautiful Moorish art deco structure. it needs a new coat of paint in this century. Local casablancais have finally realized what an architectural treasure they have in downtown Casablanca..

https://aujourdhui.ma/culture/un-programme-de-mise-a-niveau-du-centre-ville-historique-de-casablanca-voit-le-jourIl+s’articule+autour+de+quatre+projets+Dans+le+cadre+du+plan+de+sauvegarde+et+de+valorisation+du+patrimoine+de+Casablanca,+la+Société+de+développement+local+Cas :

MOROCCAN ITEMS FOR SALE:
PLEASE VIEW DEDICATED PAGE ON THIS WEBSITE

Bellows, camel leather, copper and wood. ABout 48 years old.. Works fine.

 

All these will appear on my dedicated page.

These lithographs were produced by he same printer who printed my first book, Come with me to the Kasbah. Printer and publishing house are long gone

I am asking USD70 a piece. Shipped in a tube. About 23.5 by 15. 5 inches.

,

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!!!

 

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

 

 

The Kasbah Chronicles: AUGUST 2019 (Morocco and more)

AUGUST 2019

The Kasbah Chronicles
Les Chroniques de la Kasbah
en anglais et en français

Now in its tenth year! Dixième année!

Greetings from the oasis of Tinerhir,on Morocco’sKasbah Trail

 

MUSINGS:

Revisiting the Kasbah Trail (cont.)
Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Essaouira and the Oualidia lagoon
Fig tales encore
My LONG YELLOW fig tree grown from a cutting, is bearing fruit!

Kitty in the mediaon A Growing Passionon KPBS
What to make with all those lemons?
Lemon syrup OR limoncello…

Food: Get ready for Mars!
Only in California

 
News of Morocco and beyond

JOIN ME! Become a docent
The California Center for the Arts needs docents and ushers
Profs: Programmez une visite du musée en français

The MOON in literature

Kitty is selling Moroccan artifacts and more

Thank you to those who “LIKED” the Facebook page for Dar Zitoun Riad. View our historic home and keep checking the LIKE button! Spread it around! Merci!!
https://www.facebook.com/Dar-Zitoun-Riad-571764203267186/

And thank you to the ones who have taken the time to write a review of Mint Tea and Minaretson Amazon.com. Every little word helps.
 https://www.amazon.com/Mint-Tea-Minarets-Moroccan-Memories-ebook

The Kasbah Trail (cont.)

I first travelled this mythical trail when I was 7 or 8, when my father, the co-founder of what has become Morocco’s annual national folklore festival, combed the Atlas Mountains to invite Berber tribal leaders to perform on the Marrakech stage. The task took much persuasion on his part, but the fact that this English expat spoke bad French and hardly any Arabic may have played in his favor. Just another “eccentric” Englishman! And the folklore festival, now an annual event, lives on! In my last Chronicles I described our excursion to the sand dunes of Merzouga on camel back—memorable.

From Erfoud, the northernmost oasis on the trail, a narrow, two-lane road winds past dozens of fortified Berber villages, called ksour, nestled among the oases of the Dadès Valley. The Kasbah of Tinerhir, featured in such films as The Wind and the Lionand The Jewel of the Nileguards the entrance to the imposing Todra Gorges. Past the market town of Boumalne, at El Kaala des Mgouna, Damascene roses grow in profusion, and women-owned co-ops have revitalized the region thanks to the manufacture of rose-infused beauty products. Fabled Ouarzazate, once home to the French Foreign legion, has gone “Bollywood”. Golf (yes!) aficionados play on verdant desert courses (yes, and what about the water table?) and foreign film crews locate an iconic background. The Berbère Palace Hotel and its manicured grounds provide a refuge from achergui(or sirocco, hot wind), as does its vast swimming pool. Much of the lobby’s decor comes from left-over movie sets at the local Atlas movie studios.

The drive across the High Atlas mountains is always exciting—the road is quite narrow at times, and hairpin curves might make your hair stand on end (on one memorable childhood trip our car’s brakes failed, and my father rode the clutch all the way down the highest mountain in North Africa ). Stop for a selfie at the Tizi n’Tichka pass(Col du Tichka in French) at an elevation of 7,410 ft, with the mountain panorama as a backdrop. Or indulge in a freshly grilled brochette or two such as these (don’t forget to dip them in ground cumin!}

  (recipe below)

A spine tingling ride down the mountain culminates at La Ville Rose, the Pink City, Marrakech, no over a million strong. My perspective on this once glorious town has dramatically changed. The city has turned into a destination for the jet set, with all that entails: expensive lodgings, expensive food, peak traffic times leading to complete gridlock, and overrated restaurants and stores. In the rapidly dwindling palm grove, palm trees are getting scarcer as multi-million dollar holiday homes take their place. I admit, I am biased: I used to go to Marrakech as a 7-year old, and help my mother gather the Seville oranges that fell from the trees lining the streets so she could make REAL English marmalade. That Marrakech is no more—even the Jardins Majorelle –a botanic garden created in the last century by one of Morocco’s most notable painters, were taken over by Yves St Laurent.


Did you know that this iconic blue, in French called Bleu Majorelle, was first concocted by Jacques Majorelle himself?
Yves St Laurent boutique

Leave Marrakech behind to head for the Atlantic and Essaouira, a tourist destination that works hard at maintaining its soul. The town  attained its worldwide reputation as an art colony thanks to André Azoulay, an Essaouira native and once an advisor to the King. Azoulay created a gathering place for international artists and musicians such as the Gnawas, descendants of African slaves who perform with the likes of Mick Jagger and other famed musicians. The medina and its Portuguese ramparts retain their authenticity (although most riads are owned by foreigners and turned into Air B and Bs). A word to the wise: the beach is TERRIBLY windy (good for windsurfing.)

Essaouira and environs is where argan trees grow wild: this is the only natural argan forest in the world. Therefore, another word to the wise about ARGAN: READ THE LABEL:You may find that the “organic” “natural” product you purchased contains a variety of chemicals—as one passenger realized when we visited an argan oil cooperative in the heart of argan country. If you purchase the product outside Morocco, check how far down argan oil is on the list of ingredients. If it’s inexpensive, it is NOT true argan oil!


argan “nuts”and harvesters:

goats LOVE argan drupes. . .

From Essaouira, I like to head north along the most picturesque coastal drive in the country, and stop for lunch at L’Hippocampe restaurant (French for The Seahorse), on the Oualidia lagoon. When I was growing up, Oualidia is where casablancaisand marrakchiswent to escape the city heat. You too, will be seduced by the panoramic view, flower-filled gardens, and fresh seafood. A second generation of family owners has upgraded the menu but still relies on oysters fresh from nearby oyster beds, sea urchins, and mounds of fresh mussels and clams. In May 2019, a new road was being built to link up with the freeway, and the detour was quite long and bumpy. Brace yourself, and stay the course: you will not regret it.  I wish I could have attended this festival!

https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/07/279007/oualidia-to-hold-oyster-festival-from-july-26-to-august-4/

 
Oualidia Lagoon
and some of the local seafood:

Next issue: Back to Dar Zitoun and Azemmour

Grilling?
Kitty’sBrochettes
Makes about 10 skewers

In Morocco, beef or lamb (or chicken, or fish) is cut into 3/4-inch cubes maximum, unlike the large chunks served in the Middle East. Smaller pieces make it easier to slip the meat off the skewer with a piece of bread. Slip 5 or 6 cubes on the same stick (don’t forget a piece of lamb fat!) Dip each cube in cumin for an authentic Moroccan experience.

1 pound boned leg of lamb, trimmed of fat (reserve the fat)
1 tablespoon preserved lemon pulp
½ onion, grated
15 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
10 sprigs fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Extra cumin, for dipping
Harissa, hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Combine meat with preserved lemon pulp, onion, cilantro, parsley, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, and garlic. Mix with the cubes of meat. Marinate for 2 hours or overnight.
Heat coals or grill to the red hot stage, or preheat a broiler. Grill to desired doneness. Serve with cumin and harissaon the side.
adapted from Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen by Kitty Morse.

Kitty in the media:
Watch for my article on The Kasbah Trail Revisitedin Wine, Dine, and Travel, a beautiful, online, travel magazine.
http://www.winedineandtravel.com

Again, thank you to Nan Sterman host of A Growing Passionon KPBS:  A rerun of the show is always a lovely surprise: need a refresher on how to preserve lemons?
https://agrowingpassion.com/episode-304-preserve-the-harvest/

FIG TALES (redux);
We had to cut down our first fig tree because it was so prolific that the tree bent over under the weight of the fruit! We planted a cutting in another location: My Long Yellow is thriving, and I am awaiting a new crop to make raspberry fig jam. I kid you not, the first fig was as large as an orange:

LEMONS:
I am trying to find use for all the Meyer lemons still hanging from my tree: preserved lemons; marmalade, lemon syrup, and now, LIMONCELLO! Anyone have other ideas?

Edible Book Festival: A hoot!
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/edible-book-festival

Have you discovered Run for Cover bookstore in Ocean Beach (San Diego)
Located two blocks from Sunset Cliffs. Marianne, the owner, speaks French, and promises personalized service. Pay her a visit then take a walk along Sunset Cliffs.
http://www.runforcoverbookstore.com

Speaking of Sunset Cliffs:
These cliffs are brittle, and disintegrate regularly. Signs abound warning how dangerous that is: So, what do visitors do? Step over the warning fences to take selfies on the edge of the cliffs. Will I feel sorry for them if they tumble into the sea? I don’t think so:

Only in California:
A woman led Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies on a brief chase, hit a utility pole and then did a series of yoga poses in the road after exiting her vehicle. Willits News

The California Center for the Arts in Escondido, CA. needs docents and ushers
Profs de français,
cette visite peut être programmée pour  tous niveaux,  même les tous petits : Encouragez vos élèves à pratiquer la langue parlée. Rendez-nous nous visite pour l’expo de dessins d’Edgar Degaset de ses contemporains.

Edgar Degas etchings are on exhibit  this month. And if you haven’t experienced one of the county’s art treasures, now is the time: Queen Calafia’s Magic Circle is a world-renowned installation in Escondido (CA). Scale model of the Magic Circle on display at the Niki de St Phalle retrospective.

Become a Museum Docent! It’s fun, educational, and you can do it on your own time.
The California Center for the Arts, Escondidomuseum seeks to provide North County San Diego with wide-ranging exhibitions that highlight contemporary artwork. Each show is accompanied by a dedicated Student Gallery Wall as a commitment to supporting young artists in the community. Tours are scheduled on demand  for all ages. Please contact Mikee Ferran, Museum Program Coordinator, at mferran@artcenter.org. Would your group like to practice speaking French? I will be happy to accommodate with a tour en français.  Email Mikee to schedule.

News of Morocco and beyond:
Amine Kabaj is trying to push a conservative Arab society forward by showcasing contemporary artists. https://www.ozy.com/provocateurs/the-man-modernizing-morocco-through-art/81268

A Legacy of the Arab occupation in Spain: Water conservation
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/aug/15/the-rain-in-spain-how-an-ancient-arabic-technique-saves-alicante-from-floods

La Normandie et le débarquement recréé en OHIO!
Normandy landings and Recreating D-Day in Ohio. AUG 15 to 17, 2019
www.ddayohio.us
https://france-amerique.com/fr/conneaut-hosts-d-day-in-ohio

How we are faked out on Food ads
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BD-a6Xy8dog&feature=youtu.beFor WW: https://www.independent.com/2019/07/17/betty-fussell-is-fierce-funny-and-frank/

A new twist on the French version of The Amazing Race: La Carte aux Trésors en Amérique
https://france-amerique.com/fr/la-carte-aux-tresors-is-coming-to-america

A good question: Pourquoi les Americains sont-ils si généreux avec Notre Dame?
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/aug/08/notre-dame-paris-why-have-americans-given-so-much-money-to-restore

SAY FROMAGE:Now, that’s a tour I would LOVE to take!
https://france-amerique.com/fr/a-tour-of-france-in-45-cheeses

TRAVELERS AND READERS REJOICE!Airport bookstores are seeing the light:
Good news for travelers: a number of airport bookstores have a “read and return” program that will give you a 50% refund on a book purchased at one of their stores within six months.
https://lifehacker.com/read-and-return-books-to-the-airport-bookstore

SPACE SPACE AND MORE SPACE: 
As you know, I played at being an astronaut at SPACE CAMP (www.spacecamp.com) in Huntsville, AL, last Valentine’s weekend.

Moon, Mars, orSan Carlos, CA??? Are you ready for food grown by robots?
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/california-robot-farm-produce?