Category Archives: Travelling to Morocco?

March 2014:

From time to time, I will post items of interest for travelers to Morocco.
Remember, you can book me for a phone conversation to review your itinerary, or to chat about what to expect in Morocco.
I am not a travel agent, but I certainly know Morocco.

Simply go to Travelling to Morocco page, and click on the Paypal icon. I will receive an email, get back to you to schedule a mutually convenient time to chat. USD100 for 60 mns. USD50 for 30 mns.

Destinations:
List of museums in Morocco:
http://www.aufaitmaroc.com/actualites/culture/2014/2/5/les-14-musees-du-maroc-desormais-sous-sa-tutelle_217924.html?utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=e-mail&utm_campaign=aufait_newsletter#.UvP9OihvDuo

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 Unpublished article on Tioumliline by Lamia Radi, Rabat, Morocco.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: 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?

THE KASBAH CHRONICLES: Return to Morocco APRIL/MAY 2019 and more

This is the first chapter of a multi chapter Morocco/Catalonia Adventure in April and May 2019

We are engulfed in June Gloom, the time of year when the ocean is trying to heat up– and morning fog settles on the coast in thick blankets. The plants love it. We do not. Especially after the rainiest winter in decades. One good thing however: you can go skiing in the Sierras until August!

From the Merzouga sand dunes

to this sign

I wish I had thought of this for my logo!

THE KASBAH CHRONICLES
Now in its tenth year
APRIL/MAY 2019 edition

Contents
Morocco on my mind
Return to Dar Zitoun
Reflections on Marrakech, Merzouga, and Fez
Presentations and Upcoming events
MY AIRPORT RANKINGS
Mint Tea and Minarets REVIEW pretty please!
Links of interest en français et en anglais
Kitty is selling: Vintage Moroccan artifacts and more. . .
Peculiar links of interest (possibly!)

In the next issue: stay tuned for updates on
Ouarzazate, Essaouira, Casablanca and Catalonia

Musings:
From Space Camp in Huntsville (AL) in February to Morocco’s pre-Sahara dunes in April: a giant leap for this woman!

As you know, my friend Susan McBeth, founder of Novel Network (www.novelnetwork.com) and Adventures by the Book (https://www.adventuresbythebook.com), asked me to co-lead a tour of 22 passengers to Morocco last April. I agreed to come out of retirement one last time.

Ouarzazate: Catching our breath

Has Morocco changed? Let me count the ways. Heard recently on Moroccan television: “We are hoping for 500,000 (read that: five hundred thousand Chinese tourists in 2020.) Gulp. And Chauen/Xauen (aka Chefchauen) the charming little Rif mountain town where I learned to swim as an 8-year old…is now home to 3 Chinese restaurants. Marrakech and Chauen have become two of the hippest destinations apparently.

Gridlock is the word of the day in Marrakech. Some sites are so crowded one can barely move. Such is the state of affairs at the Yves St Laurent Gardens (a.k.a. Les Jardins Majorelle). At times, the High Atlas Mountains, once an iconic snow-capped backdrop to the Pink City, often disappear behind a cloud of man made haze.

Backstory: My father was a friend of Majorelle’s, one of Morocco’s foremost Orientalist painters, and my brother and I spent many hours playing in his gorgeous botanical gardens as children. The jungle-like botanical specimens have blossomed, and so have the crowds. Thanks to Yves St Laurent’s imprimatur, 300 people at least stood in line to get in on a morning in April. A small memorial to Yves and his partner, Pierre Bergé, occupy a corner of the jardins. You may need to elbow your way around the Yves St Laurent boutique and bookstore. No oil paintings by Majorelle on view, however. They remain in private collections (my father was fortunate to acquire two of them).

Starting in 1957, my father provided the buses to transport workers from the American air base at Ben Guerir (a hush hush B-52 airbase) back to town. For Xmas, my brother and I acted as “hosts” for the children of service members he invited to the Majorelle Gardens where, ever the impresario, he hired acrobats, snake charmers and gnaoua musicians from the Place Djemaa el Fna (today a World Heritage Site) to perform along the garden paths. Unforgettable!

Today, Djema el Fna 2.0 gives off a Disneyland vibe, and still boasts snake charmers and henna artists, and hundreds of tourists dine at food stalls (inspected for cleanliness each day, I am told).) One big plus regarding this sanitizing, is that most harassment has ceased and performers tend to be polite, save for one pastry seller, who, noticing I had taken his picture without his permission (MY MISTAKE), walked over to me, requested my cell phone, and then personally erased the picture from my Iphotos file. How is that for a warm welcome? NO MONEY, NO PHOTO.

Marrakech restaurants open and close in the blink of an eye. Thank goodness there are still a handful of classics like Restaurant Al Fassia Aguedal (https://alfassia.com/our-restaurant) on route de l’Ourika), open for over 25 years, and still run BY WOMEN (a first when it opened). One of the original cooks, or dada (queen of the kitchen), still runs the show at this location. This is authentic Moroccan comfort food at its best. Reservations recommended.

GUIDE: I would be remiss in NOT mentioning our excellent Marrakech-based national guide, Mustapha Lamzougui. Only once or twice during the course of my 24 annual tours have I leaned on such an attentive guide. Our bus crew from Nice Week Tours was also one of the best: Omar Chawqui, of www.NiceWeekTours.com (!!) once drove President François Hollande around.

The Fez medina has gone through a similar clean-up campaign as Marrakech, with newly-cobbled streets, restored historic sites, and “colorful” touches strategically placed for the benefit of selfies. Even the famed wool dyers in their 11th century surroundings have been “upgraded”. You need to climb a tortuous staircase to the second floor, through rooms filled with leather goods, before getting an overview of the dyers and the vats. Just hold that sprig of mint to your nostrils.

Trois mousquetaires: Susan, Kitty, Danielle sipping mahia

à la vôtre!

In Fez, a special event for us was having tea (and the Moroccan aperitif called mahia, made from figs or dates) at my friend Danielle Mamane’s, co-author for The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine from Morocco. Danielle and I conducted cooking classes together at her home on previous tours. This year, she graciously invited us for a Passover tea, or, as it is called in Fez, a “visita.” It was raining—so 24 strangers crowded around her family’s dining table laden with platter upon platter of Passover pastries (pictures attached.) Danielle knows pastries! Many of her recipes are included in our book (out of print, but still available on https://www.amazon.com/Scent-Orange-Blossoms-Sephardic-Cuisine.) We got together the day before, and she taught me new tricks for assembling her cheese-filled Moroccan briouats. Merci Danielle!

Danielle’s pastries

The hotel is undergoing renovation and, when she was asked to close her boutique five years ago, she brought home her treasure trove of antique Berber jewelry. Anyone interested let me know, and I will put you in touch with Danielle directly.  These are a few items from her collection.

For our welcome lunch near Fez, I chose Château Roslane, a newly-opened boutique hotel and resort. I first took a group to the formerly named Côteaux de l’Atlas Winery (part of Morocco’s award-winning Celliers de Meknès) about 15 years ago, when the winery was in its infancy. It is now an elegant spa/restaurant featuring updated Moroccan cuisine (https://www.roslaneboutiquehotel.com/) and award-winning wines (Morocco IS a wine-producing country after all) and first class service. Reservations a must.

Chef and maitre d’h at Chateau Roslane: merci

A walk around the Roman ruins of Volubilis, one of my favorite sites in Morocco followed lunch—a cold and rainy visit it was-but still special. Here too, the venue has been upgraded with an indoor museum featuring relics from the site, and the addition of knowledgeable, multi-lingual guides.

Backstory: In my youth, the ancient amphitheatre served as a backdrop for French troupes performing Greek plays. It was thrilling to see the ruins (used in the  movie Patton”) come alive under the floodlights of “son et lumière”.

Our itinerary took us over the Middle Atlas Mountains, through the alpine village of Ifrane (home to an American university) and a drive through the cedar forest. A fun stop (created for tourists) was feeding the Barbary apes gathered along the road. These animals have long lived in the wild (see Mint Tea and Minarets) but seemed totally unfazed by humans.

Over the mountains and down the eastern slope we went to reach our desert camp in the Merzouga sand dunes. When I visited Merzouga in the mid-eighties, it was REALLY the desert, with the only inhabitant a vendor selling warm bottles of Coca-Cola, and the immense sand dunes. Today, a small town has sprouted at the foot of the dunes as have dozens of tent “camps” of various levels catering to Chinese, French, German, etc… Our deluxe overnight accommodations at the Merzouga Camp Xaluca consisted of individual Berber tents with sink, toilet, and even shower (though I didn’t test the latter). We got there just before sunset, and were greeted by 24 crouching dromedaries, one for each passenger. We climbed aboard the passive beasts with terror mixed with much laughter and off we went to watch the sun set over the dunes. Quite a magical sight. Later, we savored a Moroccan feast of harira soup, a tagine of lamb and prunes (included in Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen), mechoui (barbecued lamb) and an excellent couscous—all the more delectable when I realized the chef had prepared our multi-course meal over a small gas burner in an adjacent tent.

Photo Kitty Morse

I got to spend several bittersweet nights at Dar Zitoun, our family riad.. feeling the absence of those who preceded me—my late father, Bouchaib #1, and many of the characters I write about in Mint Tea and Minarets.  Sidi Makhfi, our entombed holy man under the main staircase made his friendly presence felt. And to ingest a WHOLE platter of home-made couscous (which I shared it with our Bouchaib #2, our new, excellent, caretaker) was the best welcome home.

Friday couscous at Dar Zitoun

On the subject of Dar Zitoun, would you consider checking the LIKE box on the DAR ZITOUN Facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Dar-Zitoun-Riad-571764203267186/photos/?ref=page_internal-and share the site with friends? I am trying desperately to spread word of the sale.

My greatest pleasure in returning to Morocco is always  to spend time with friends: My neighbor, Alain Le Gohebel, who runs the lovely l’Oum-Errebia B and B about 50 meters from Dar Zitoun’s front door invited me for two nights. What a treat: Alain, his able manager Houcine, and his chef Rahou, did much to help me during my stay. L’Oum Errebia (www.azemmour-hotel.com)

One of Chef Rahou’s delectable creations: Stuffed tomatoes

Houcine and Bouchaib:merci

You may have read about Roselyne and Abderrahim Rahoule in Mint Tea and Minarets, where Abder shares his recipe for his FABULOUS tangia stew. I was honored to share in the ftor to break Abder’s fast on the first night of Ramadan. Abder remains one of Morocco’s foremost contemporary artists and ceramicists, and his public art adorns many a Moroccan city. De même pour mes amis et voisins, Yves et Marie Paule, qui me tiennent au courant de ce qui se passe dans le voisinage de Dar Zitoun

MORE on Morocco’s Adventures by the Book Tour BLOG
https://adventuresbythebook.com/moroccan-adventure-by-the-book-blog/
View more tour photos at
https://www.facebook.com/pg/adventuresbythebook/photos/

Nice to be acknowledged:
https://www.thespicehouse.com/ras-el-hanout
When I am asked if you should bring back spices from Morocco, here is my advice: The ONLY spice worth bringing back is saffron, which is cultivated in Southern Morocco, and costs five times less, at least. I order  special spices by mail from The Spice House in Evanston (IL.) This is one of the best spice stores in the US with origins in Milwaukee, WI, my American “hometown.” They sell my blend of ras-el-hanout. The Spice Way in Encinitas (CA) https://thespicewaysd.com is also a great source.

Presentations:
www.miracosta.edu/instruction/programsforseniors_life. JOIN US!!!
Why attend Adult Space Camp in Huntsville, AL? Space junkies Kitty Morse and Pat McArdle played at being astronauts to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
Friday, July 19, 2019. 2PM.

LIFE, Mira Costa College, Oceanside, CA. Learning Is For Everyone (LIFE)
www.miracosta.edu/instruction/programsforseniors_life.html
Kitty Morse: Revisiting Morocco’s Sahara and the mythical Kasbah Trail.
Friday, AUG 2, 2019. 2PM

Culinary Historians of San Diego:
Kitty revisits Morocco’s Kasbah Trail
Saturday, September 21, 2019
https://www.culinaryhistoriansofsandiego.com/

UPCOMING EVENTS at the Escondido Center for the Arts: FRANCOPHONE ou FRANCOPHILE
DEGAS is coming to the Center (www.artcenter.org) where I am a docent
July 20 – September 15, 2019
Works on paper by French artist, Edgar Degas. Exhibition also includes work from Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
If francophiles (4 at least) would like a personally conducted tour in French, contact Mikelanne Ferran at mferran@escondido.org
TAKE NOTE:
Did you know that Degas lived in New Orleans from 1872 to 1873?
https://france-amerique.com/en/degas-house-in-new-orleans

MY PERSONAL AIRPORT RANKINGS:
Airports to Avoid:

Charles de Gaulle (CDG, Paris) : Une honte ; shame on Charles de Gaulle.
Long, narrow departure halls, lined with insufficient seats, leaving an aisle about 4 feet wide on either side to accommodate thousands of travelers, many on their iPhone. Insane. Most eateries are located below ground (Chez Paul is my favorite). I missed my plane for Barcelona (due to a dire medical emergency on the plane we were to board.) The staff was at a loss to explain the delay for about one hour. 150 passengers waiting with no explanation is not a good thing. One agent graced us with his ill-tempered presence at passport control, keeping about 300 passengers waiting. Five or 6 staff members stood around, chatting, and seemingly oblivious. CUSTOMER SERVICE?? QU’EST CE QUE C’EST QUE CA??    WHY? BECAUSE THEY CAN. . . which leads me to

Barcelona: Unfriendly and under staffed

I missed my connection from Barcelona to Casablanca because of the delay in Paris. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE STUCK ON YOUR OWN, AT 9PM, in this airport. I found myself alone and found out that most check in counters are RENTED by major airlines and operate under another name. They don’t tell you that of course. My flight was operated by Vayama Airlines for Royal Air Maroc. No signage. It took me 45 mns to locate a human being who could direct me to a booth at the far end of the terminal, which took care of the two airlines. Guessing game for you: Vayama and RAM are represented by SWISSPORT. Never heard of them?  (Found on the Internet. Swissport International Ltd. is a Chinese-owned aviation services company providing airport ground and cargo handling services. It is owned by Chinese company HNA Group. NO wonder.) Result: I had to look for a hotel at 10PM (a shuttle bus driver used his OWN cell phone to make a reservation for me since no airport staff was visible and I had to purchase another ticket for the next day on Vayama, a low cost airline to Casablanca. Fallait le savoir.

Heathrow: a sad joke

Institutionalized rudeness, as it is in Paris. When I last went through 2 years ago, I was kept waiting along with an ever increasing line, as a good dozen inspectors had their backs turned to us while they discussed their break schedule. WHY? BECAUSE THEY CAN.

Manageable airports:

Casablanca: Aeroport Mohamed V (CMN) https://www.casablanca-airport.com/
From the one room departure hall of my childhood to two vast terminals, Mohamed V airport qualifies as a major portal between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. Word to departing travelers: a number of stores sell Moroccan artifacts—in case you missed buying them in a medina.

Tijuana: General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport (TIJ) aeropuertosgap.com.mx
San Diego and Mexico share the airport and I wanted to avoid the long drive to LAX. I decided to try “crossing the bridge” between the two countries. There is ample parking. TJ’s airport is built on a human scale. Flights within Mexico or to Latin America tend to be cheaper than flights originating in the US. For my flight to Paris on AIR FRANCE (a partner of Aeromexico) I connected in Mexico City on an Airbus that had seen much better days. The food was good… not the comfort level.

To access TJ’s airport, you must first purchase a cross-border pass for $30. (https://www.crossborderxpress.com/en/). Passenger drop-off and check-in takes place a few feet from the check in counter! You then proceed over the bridge to passport control. The return is simple as well: retrieve your luggage, look for the LARGE CBX sign at one end of the hall, proceed through passport control, over the bridge, and through US customs. Back on home soil.

Looks like les français envoient leur vieux avions au Mexique ? Or else they need to upgrade their Airbus fleet. I could hardly extend my business class seat — a far cry from my flight to Vietnam last year when China Southern, an airline unknown to me up to then, featured the individual cocoons and fluffy duvets.

LINKS OF INTEREST:
COUSCOUS à la UNE: BIEN SUR ! Qui en doutait ??

Le_couscous,_arme_de_réconciliation_massive:
https://www.lemonde.fr/m-le-mag/article/2019/02/01/un-couscous-pour-tous_

That’s better!
This Alabama book shop has a national audience for its autographed titles. https://www.ozy.com/good-sht/the-bookstore-where-all-your-favorite-titles-are-signed/92772

AMAZON reviews please!
I am shamelessly begging for additional reviews on Amazon for  
Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories.
A very short anonymous review on my Amazon book page for Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories is always appreciated. I am trying to qualify for a free book blast for the Kindle version!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MFVTJH8/ref=sr_1_2_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1547051483&sr=1-2&keywords=mint+tea+and+minarets

I AM SELLING a variety of vintage Moroccan artifacts: Many were part of my father’s estate: they include books on Moroccan handcrafts; rugs; antique brass fixtures; Victorian beveled glass lamp with pull chain; two large brass door knockers patterned after the ones at the Royal Palace in Fez (I had them made specially but cannot use them);  linens, and more! Just ask.

 

More next month! I love comments!

 

 

Kitty’s Adventures at Space Camp! and.. upcoming tour to Morocco

Kitty MOST EXCELLENT ADVENTURE AT ADULT SPACE CAMP in HUNTSVILLE, AL.

TWO GOLDEN AGERS

(IF THAT’s WHAT WE ARE AT THIS STAGE OF OUR LIVES??)

https://www.thecoastnews.com/vista-seniors-cross-off-bucket-list-after-return-from-adult-space-camp/

Space Camp

https://www.spacecamp.com/img/2018/PG2018.pdf program guide

Where to begin? The article explains most of it. This was, for me, the kick of a lifetime. My friend Pat (www.patmcardle.com), a novelist and solar cooking expert , feels the same way. So we attended Space Camp..

Kevin Joest, a talented young composer, was a member of our TEAM PIONEER at Space Camp. Most members were young techies, space groupies as I were, as I am. Listen to Kevin here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HIf6qZ5xlU&fbclid=IwAR0Z6yGl2JW3wXha1yqQ7tXFwR3Qi6xnIKeFcrc03J5CNPXFTrdKyfCGF2A

Our great Team Pioneer (we won the prize for the best team!)

Chef Clementine feeds up to 850 children a DAY in the summer!

Then this: IN SPACE FOR REAL!!

In a historic moment of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the company’s Crew Dragon craft successfully docked at the International Space Station on Sunday . . .

The Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA: Fascinating!Step into Air Force 1 (the old one), a piece of the Berlin Wall, the suit Reagan wore when he was shot, learn how to set a table for a state dinner at the White House(really!!) and much more. A very entertaining and educational 2 hours—

Presentations: Oceanside, CA.

Lunch and chat, thank you so much! Encinitas Literary Ladies: 

“Thanks Kitty! 

It was great having you join us today for lunch.  I know everyone had a wonderful time.  I think it was a book club gathering that will be remembered for a long time!  I will pass along the Kasbah Chronicles information to the group.  We look forward to seeing you again some time in the future.  Have a wonderful trip to Morocco (Your book helped us feel like we’ve been there).”

 All the best, Pam

Presentation: SPACE CAMP ADVENTURES!

Kitty and Pat will give a talk on their adventures at Space Camp, July 19th, 2019

for the LIFE group (Learning Is For Everyone) at Mira Coast College in Oceanside (CA) (LIFE link)

Catalina and Avalon: a throwback to quieter times

Kitty in the media: Crown City Magazine,Coronado, CA

and

https://www.creators.com/read/travel-and-adventure/02/19/wrigleys-dream-thrives-on-catalina-island

TIJUANA 40 years ago!

The San Diego Reader is really digging into its archives!

A piece I wrote about 40 years ago when I was on staff at the struggling (no longer so)  San Diego Reader!! How things have changed!!

https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2019/jan/20/archives-reader-baja-stories-1970s-80s/#

MY GRIPE WITH AMERICAN AIRLINES:

Our flight back from Space Camp took 5 ½ hours from Charlotte NC to San Diego. A little boy, seated behind my friend Pat, coughed and sneezed all the way home, while his mother paid no attention. The inconsiderate woman kept eating her potato chips, ignoring her kid.

I AM ASKING WHY AMERICAN and all other airlines, DO NOT HAND MASKS WHEN THEY IDENTIFY A SICK PASSENGER. That kid infected half the plane (indeed, 2 weeks later, Pat still had a good case of bronchitis.) SHAME ON THE MOTHER.

The Kasbah Chronicles: January 2019: Mint Tea and Minarets: eBook LIVE!!!

December sunset in Vista CA

Footsteps in the sand, Oceanside, CA

CONTENTS:

Mint Tea and Minarets is now downloadable for Kindle
(more eplatforms coming soon)

Please help me spread the word!

Just send
https://www.amazon.com/Mint-Tea-Minarets-Moroccan-Memories-ebook/dp/
If you are inclined to download the book, a review would be much appreciated. I am told I need ten reviews to get the ball rolling.

 

MUSINGS:
It’s raining: Time to make soup!
Kitty in the media: a fun surprise 
Queen Califia’s Magic Circle reopens
Escondido (CA): Manzanar as seen through the lens of Ansel Adams
 French Conversation for Dummies (not MY students!)
La Fête des Rois (in time for 2020)
 In English and en français: Notable Links  
News from Morocco and beyond

Do you have the same feeling I do, that 2018 was only 6 months long? I can’t get used to the head-spinning speed of “as time goes by.” So much to explore, so little time!

Like many of you, I was shocked at the tragic events that befell the two young Norwegian women trekkers in the Atlas Mountains last December. Many Moroccans gathered spontaneously at the embassies involved, to offer condolences and apologies, feelings shared by many of their compatriots. That said, I have to admit that I sometimes feel safer walking around a medina than I do walking across some US parking lots after dark (I was mugged in broad daylight in the parking lot of Target in Vista 20 years ago…)
 
Kitty in the media: A fun surprise for me:
Edible San Diego, Nov-Dec 2018: http://ediblesandiego.ediblecommunities.com/digital-editions
Couscous with Pomegranate and Buttermilk.. a recipe of mine from 2008!  pp 38 and 39. Pick up a FREE copy of this mouth-watering magazine at any San Diego County farmer’s market.  We planted a pomegranate tree specially so my husband could enjoy one of his favorite fruits. This year, it produced fruit weighing over ONE pound each!

It’s raining! Soup’s on

My Pavlovian response to a blessed rainy day is always  to make soup:
Here is a favorite from The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine from Morocco, co-authored with Danielle Mamane.

Dodie’s Bean Soup with Preserved Lemons 
Serves 6 

Thank you to Dodie Hazan, a transplanted Fassia (Fez native), who now resides in Montreal, and who provided the recipe for my book.
 
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups dried baby lima beans, soaked and drained 
2 bay leaves
5 cups broth 
12 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 of a preserved lemon MAKE YOUR OWN! WATCH ME ON YOUTUBE!!!
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
2 teaspoons salt

Loubia de Dodie

In a small bowl, blend the paprika with the olive oil. Mix to a paste.  In a large pot over medium high heat, cook the paprika paste, stirring  until it darkens slightly.Add the beans, bay leaves, and broth. Stir to blend. Cover and bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Cook until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Discard the bay leaves. Add the garlic, cumin, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir to blend. Cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. 
Scrape the pulp from the preserved lemon, and reserve for another use. Dice the rind and add it to the beans, along with the pepper, and salt. Heat through and serve with plenty of crusty bread.

Kitty’s Preserved Lemons
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGcBPRYKd-4

News close to home: Niki de St Phalle/Queen Califia update:
https://www.thecoastnews.com/artist-niki-de-saint-phalles-queen-califias-magical-circle/ 

I have mentioned this local art treasure before: Queen Califia’s Magic Circle, created by Niki de St Phalle, specially for San Diego residents (mainly children). Vandals disfigured this world-renowned landmark, and it has taken many months to restore. I am happy to say that Queen Califia has reopened on special days, at certain times, so docents can keep an eye on things. This is the perfect destination on a sunny day (behind North County Mall in Escondido).

Meanwhile, a most moving exhibit at the California Center for the Arts(http://artcenter.org/event/manzanar-the-wartime-photographs-of-ansel-adams-wendy-maruyama) in Escondido, a new show at the Center (where you can book a private, docented tour for a minimum of four people, with yours truly, upon reservation)  
“Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams:
A most moving show, and, unfortunately, very topical.

“An intimate look through the lens of celebrated photographer, Ansel Adams, at daily life in Manzanar, one of ten Japanese-American incarceration camps in the US during World War II. His work in Manzanar … providing a glimpse into the lives of the thousands of Japanese-Americans that were interned during one of the darkest moments in US history.” 

From Morocco and beyond:

Yes, Virginia, even though most Moroccans are carnivores, and celebrate by roasting a WHOLE lamb on a spit (I can’t wait to dig into a meltingly-tender lamb mechoui during our tour to Morocco in April!!) THERE IS A BURGEONING VEGAN movement:
https://mobile.telquel.ma/2018/12/14/phenomene-le-troupeau-clairseme-des-vegans-marocains

The Pope visits Morocco in March:

Le pape François se rendra en visite au Maroc, à Rabat et à Casablanca, les 30 et 31 mars 2019, près de 34 ans après la visite de Jean Paul II dans ce royaume, a annoncé mardi le Vatican.
 My father (who lived in Morocco 50 years) long recalled a papal visit to Casablanca decades ago. Throngs of Moroccans turned out to welcome the religious leader, so much so, that the Pope had to conduct mass in the sports stadium.

Heart-stopping video of Morocco seen from the air: take a few minutes to search for this on YouTube. 
 Le Maroc vu du Ciel(Morocco from the air). Look for the English translation
https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-Lkry-SF01&hsimp

Casablanca reborn: My hometown is becoming famous not only for its vintage Moorish Art Deco architecture but also for its modern profile: Casablanca is known as the Paris of Africa!

https://telquel.ma/2018/08/25/ces-chantiers-a-casablanca-qui-devraient-voir-le-jour-avant-2019

VALENTINE’S:  A Moroccan mail-order gift for your Valentine:
Meska Sweets specializes in authentic Moroccan pastries, and was Featured in the NY Times in 2018:
team@meskasweets.com. Authentic and lovely packaging too!

Francophones et francophiles : La Fete des Rois, January 6th
(Feast of the Kings)  Better late than never:

When I grew up in Morocco, my mother purchased our galette des rois from our favorite pâtisserie (La Normande, the one I wrote about in Mint Tea and Minarets.) We savored each buttery bite of puff pastry oozing ambrosial almond paste careful not no break a tooth on the tiny ceramic “fève” (literally, fava bean) hidden among the feathery layers—If we found it, one of us would be crowned a king or queen!  Would you believe I walked into a 99 cent store a few years back, and purchased 10 embossed, golden cardboard crowns, PERFECT for le jour des rois. The tradition lives on: some fèves are still made in France!
https://france-amerique.com/en/king-cake-a-french-tradition-little-known-in-the-u-s/

“This golden, frangipane-filled puff pastry appears in boulangeries and patisseries at the end of December. King cake or la galette des rois, is traditionally eaten with the family on the first Sunday after New Year’s Day, but many enjoy it from December 31 and throughout the whole month of January . . . Most figurines are now mass-produced in China and Vietnam. But one company, Colas, is resisting this relocation. Based in Clamecy in the Nièvre département, it is one of the last pottery works that still makes its figurines by hand. The recent models include sailing knots, French presidents, and Japanese manga characters. More than 500,000 figurines will be produced this year, some of which will be sent to the United States. The family-run business supplies Maison Kayser in New York and Washington D.C., Mademoiselle Colette in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, and the Normandie bakery in Los Angeles. . . “
“. . . The fève is part of French tradition,” says Fabienne Souliès. “Some customers order a cake with four figurines inside — one for each of their grandchildren — and come back every year to continue their collection.” Far from being a simple trinket, the figurines actually help bakeries to sell more and are highly sought-after by the “fabophiles” who collect them. These enthusiasts meet up every year for an international fair held in Paris.” Bonne Fête! 

Just because: French Conversation for Dummies (I have no clue about this method!!)
https://france-amerique.com/fr/the-art-of-french-conversation-for-dummies/?ct=t(France-Amerique-newsletter-28-june-2018_COPY_01)

or practice French in Louisiana:
https://france-amerique.com/en/a-documentary-depicts-the-rebirth-of-french-in-louisiana/
 
Anyone headed to Cape Cod? Check out this blog for the best restaurants in the area:
https://www.capecodrestaurants.com/blog

And because I am a fan of anything Australian, be it people, landscape, sandwiches. . .  
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/world/australia/sausage-onion-bunnings-warehouse.html
 
As always, Bismillah and Bon Appétit