The Kasbah Chronicles
Les Chroniques de la Kasbah
In English and en français
Now it its 13th year
C’est la 13ième année!
A FIERY SUNRISE IN VISTA
The French have adopted our custom. C’est vraiment too much!
My literary trip to New England
visit with local authors, and visit to the homes of major American literary figures such as the home Little Women and Louisa May Alcott, chez Longfellow in Portland, ME, Thoreau’s farmhouse digs, and Robert Frost’s enchanted forest and tree-lined Poetry Trail.
A thrill for me was to “visit” my book, Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion, on display in the gift shop of at the quirky and awe-inspiring Isabella Stewart Museum in Boston. I love finding my books in such famous “homes.”
Boston has discovered fish tacos (so has Paris, by the way…but that is another story.)
One of my quests? To eat as many lobster rolls as possible. I am happy to report I overdosed.
We did see the leaves turn, we walked under a covered bridge, and we ate more lobster rolls. Oh yes! We even went on a lobster fishing expedition near Kennebunkport, ME. Good news: the lobster catch this year is excellent. Lobsters have returned to the waters of New England.
One of the most unusual items I discovered along the way is this Moroccan Rose and Grapefruit flavored vodka—in the wilds of Vermont. Really? Tasted like pure vodka to me!
(I will spare you a repeat of comedian Art Buchwald’s column on Le Jour de Merci Donnant (where he explains Thanksgiving to the French, but I still think it’s hilarious!) And cassolita is the perfect side dish for turkey
Moroccan Squash with Caramelized Onions
1 lb Mediterranean pumpkin or butternut squash
Place unpeeled squash in baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F until soft, about 1 hour. Let cool. Peel and cut into serving pieces and place in baking dish.
Cook the onions in the oil, with the cinnamon, sugar, salt, and pepper, until very soft, about 15 minutes. Add the raisins and cook 5 minutes longer. Spread the mixture over the squash, sprinkle with the almonds, cover with foil, and return to the oven to heat for 20 minutes.
Closer to home:
Where have the avocados gone? Quelle tristesse, où sont passés les avocats (fruits, pas les hommes?)
Roi du chocolat:
Teslas in my maman’s home town of Châlons-en-Champagne. It’s fun to follow the news of the town where my mother was born, and where my maternal great-parents lived until the mid-1920s. I have been steeped in THEIR lives for the past 18 months—from the Belle Epoque to the end of WW2, through their own handwritten legacy: a daily journal and 70 family recipes. A gut-wrenching project. What would be their reaction upon this latest mode of transportation?
Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion has also found a home at the beautiful Sherman Library and Botanical Gardens in Corona del Mar, CA. An ideal time to visit is during the holidays.
Discovery of the month: Idiotismes gastronomiques:
Bismillah and Bon Appétit and
UN BON L”HALLOWEEN…
PS: I am still downsizing and getting rid of a number of vintage and antique Moroccan artifacts. Please send me an email if you would like to view the items before the holidays.
à la française: MAY 1, 2020
WE NEED SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE
IN THIS TIME OF COVID-19
at a social distance!
BONNE FETE DU MUGUET!
American-style MOTHER’s DAY:
From May 1 to May, 10th, 2020 Kitty will ship signed copies of her book, Edible Flowers: a Kitchen Companion for more than 50% OFF list price(details below).
RAMADAN started on April 25. Time to make Ramadan pastries. Ramadan Mubarak!
WHAT IS LA FETE DU MUGUET ?
In France, it is customary to give a sprig of lily of the valley on May 1st. The day doubles as a celebration of springtime as well as Fête du Travail to honor workers of the world
Origins of Fete du Muguet in France
« . . l’origine de la fête du muguet remonte à l’époque romaine, en latin, le 1ier mai : maius mensis, mois de la déesse Maïa, on célébrait sa fête le 1ier mai, en plantant des arbres de Mai, symbole du réveil printanier de la nature (cf Grand Larousse Encyclopédique de 1962 tome 6 page 997) »
“…the origins of the Fete du Muguet harks back to Roman times, in Latin the month of May translates as: maius mensis, month of the Goddess Maia, whose feast was celebrated on May 1, in planting Trees of May, to symbolize nature’s rebirth. . . “
IN HONOR OF MOTHER’S DAY!
Do edible flowers grow in your garden (without the use of pesticides). It might be rosemary, thyme, parsley, or cilantro (my favorite!), or even roses. You will find a recipe for these blossoms in the book.
SPRINKLE FOWERS ON YOUR PLATE (OR YOUR FRIEND’S PLATE) Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion, is a lovely seasonal gift for a mother, grandmother, sister, or a gardening friend.
From May 1 to May 10th, 2020, purchase a copy of Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion for over 50% OFF the list price
Shipping in the US only: $3.00 ( I will bundle books if you purchase more than one)
TOTAL for ONE copy: $10.50 includes shipping in the US.
I will personally sign each book per your instructions. Send me a message with a shipping address.
Note: The book is also available through amazon.com (LINK) as a hard copy and for download.
Kitty travels Afar and Afield
Lady Liberty upon my first visit to New York in 1961:
New York today
The new World Trade Center slices through the clouds like a silver blade
Musings on New York and elsewhere9/11 Memorial
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.)
Afar and Afield in New York City and
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 degrees. I 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.
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.
This will warm the cockles of your heart
Kitty’s Pumpkin and Tomato Soup with Garbanzo Beans
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:
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:
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
LIFE, Mira Costa College
Presentation and book signing
Poway Library, Poway CA
A taste of Morocco
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: email@example.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:
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 on the subject of memorials:
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. . . .”
I am getting excited! My book tour to Alaska is merely 2 weeks away. If you happen to read this post, and if you know people in Anchorage, please feel free to share the following information. Three other San Diego authors are joining me for this first author exchange with Alaska colleagues: Kathi Diamant http://kathidiamant.com, Marivi Solinen (https://marivisoliven.com), and Susan McBeth (http://adventuresbythebook.com) for this one-of-a-kind experience. I will cook, chat, and give presentations on Moroccan cuisine and on edible flowers.
Here are the events I am participating in:
Saturday, September 24: 2:10 to 3:10PM. Roundtable chat
49writers annual conference, Anchorage, Alaska
Kitty Morse on How to write and market a cookbook.
2:10 pm to 3 10 pm:
BP Energy Center
900 E. Benson Blvd.
PO Box 196612 Anchorage, Alaska 99519-6612
Saturday, September 24: 6PM. Reservations required.
CHAT WITH THE AUTHOR while you SAVOR AN AUTHENTIC MOROCCAN DINNER!
TURKEY RED RESTAURANT
550 S Alaska, Suite 100
Chef Alex: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Books for sale provided by David Cheezum, Fireside bookstore, Palmer, AK. email@example.com
Monday, September 26. 6-8PM. Reservations required.
Cooking Class: A Taste of Morocco
Allen and Peterson Home store
3002 Seward Highway
Tuesday, September 27. 6PM. Open to the public.
Presentation on Moroccan cuisine and culture
Nancy Clark, mgr
Anchorage Public Library
Chugiak-Eagle River Branch
Wednesday, September 28: 6:30PM to 8PM. Fee charged.
Sprinkle Flowers on your plate!
Alaska Botanical Gardens Lecture Series
September 28 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
BP Energy Center,
900 E. Benson Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 99508 United States
Thursday September 29, 7PM
Presentation on Moroccan cuisine and culture
Anchorage Public Library, Loussac Branch
HOPE TO SEE YOU AT AN EVENT!!!
Author Celebration makes for strange bedfellows:
I was honored to be included in the 50th celebration for local authors at the Central Library recently, but I had to chuckle at the juxtaposition of titles. Nothing against the subjects, however!
Some of you have attended a demonstration featuring recipes from my latest book, Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion. I promised to give out the address where you can purchase fresh edible flowers as well as candied flowers (if you don’t make them following my recipe, that is!) by mail order. The flowers are grown locally, and are distributed through www.gourmetsweetbotanicals.com.
Thank you to those who suggested stores, markets, farms, catalogs, and any other venue that might be interested in carrying Edible Flowers. Catherine in Marina del Rey, thanks to you, the book is now at the Marina del Rey Garden Center. I will send your free book to you soon! In the meantime, I am following up on other suggestions, and will keep each one of you updated. All I need is a name or a website, better still, a human contact of independent bookstores, large nurseries with gift stores, botanical gardens, and garden or flower catalogs that might be interested in featuring the title.
Looking forward to:
April 16, 2016:
Come to a chat on Edible Flowers which I will co-host along with Nan Sterman, host of KPBS’s A Growing Passion, for the Culinary Historians of San Diego at the Central Library. If food or food history interest you, then this group dedicated to feeding body and mind, is for you. Open to the public. Check out
May 14, 2016: Benefit Cooking Class. By invitation.
May 21, 2016:
San Diego Herb Society. Members only.
More events in June and July.
What is Pecha Kucha?
“It is not a club – just a night for creativity and not for profit. The original organizers – 2 architects in Japan – designed it so that they could be held in “disused aircraft hangs, churches, supermarkets, schools, factories, warehouses, historic buildings restaurants, clubs, cinemas, theaters, etc” – anywhere where there can be a social component with a beer or wine break. Each Pecha Kucha Kucha organizer agrees to certain principles, signs an agreement, and given a license free of charge.”
For more information on the Feb. 27th meeting in Del Mar, CA, write firstname.lastname@example.org