Category Archives: Moroccan

Moroccan Specialties

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

MUSINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Can you smell the garlic?

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

L’Ampolla:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kitty is selling: Pls spread the word:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

All that remains is for me to wish you HAPPY THANKSGIVING

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

Kitty

 

Briouats for my hero, Neil Armstrong

Briouats for Neil Armstrong

By

Kitty Morse

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

This is what spurred on the whole idea:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Briouats served to Neil Armstrong!

For about 24 (2  /12-inch) briouats:

3 boneless chicken thighs

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger powder

½ medium onion, diced

½ cup water

1 egg, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

15 sprigs cilantro, minced

½  a preserved lemon, rind finely diced

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

Oil for frying

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

All text and photos copyright Kitty Morse 2019

 

 

The Kasbah Chronicles APRIL 2019

The Kasbah Chronicles

Until my return from Morocco. . .

I leave behind these gorgeous Vista clouds

Contents

MUSINGS

RECIPE

Talks and presentations

March slipped away from me. In am in full “packing” mode. We have a full tour! April 23rd to May 2nd, I will be in Morocco with Adventures by the Book. And this is the view of the Mother of Spring river from Dar Zitoun’s atrium window.

I am still basking in the thrill of my lunar adventure (before it appeared in the NY Times!)

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/19/travel/anniversaries-in-wyoming-and-huntsville-alabama.

Space Camp was one of the most fun experiences of my life. Please bear with me: just one more picture!

 

Kitty’s Blood Orange Syrup and Jelly

Ripe fruit fall off our blood orange tree faster than I can pick them! To savor their flavor at other times of the year, I make this ambrosial syrup, keep it in the fridge, and serve it with champagne or with carbonated water for a refreshing summer beverage.

2 ¼ cups fresh blood orange juice, strained

½ cup water

1 1/3 cups sugar

For the syrup: Place juice, water, and sugar in heavy pan. Simmer for 20 to 30 mns to viscous liquid stage. Refrigerate. Add 2 tablespoons to a glass of white wine, champagne, or prosecco. Or simply combine with water and ice cubes, to taste.

For the jelly: Simmer 20 mns longer, or until mixture forms a very soft ball when dropped in cold water.  Let cool overnight on the kitchen counter. Store in sterilized containers and seal. Spread on toast, or use as a topping for yogurt, mascarpone, ricotta, etc . . .

 

Kitty in the media: http://online.anyflip.com/dmdy/nwaa/mobile/index.html

Wine Dine and Travel Spring is a gorgeous online travel magazine, and free for the download. This issue features Argentina in depth. I am very excited to be among its contributors. Read about my trip to Hoi An, one of Vietnam’s most historic cities.

 

Classes and presentations:

LIFE, Mira Costa College, Oceanside, CA

www.miracosta.edu/instruction/programsforseniors_life.html

Learning Is For Everyone (LIFE) Oceanside LIFE.

 

Why attend Adult Space Camp in Huntsville, AL?

Kitty Morse and co-space junkie Pat McArdle celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

July 19, 2019. 2PM

 

LIFE: Mira Costa College, Oceanside, CA

www.miracosta.edu/instruction/programsforseniors_life.html

Kitty Morse: Revisiting Morocco’s Sahara and the mythical Kasbah Trail.

FRI. AUG 2, 2019

 

Culinary Historians of San Diego:

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Savoring Morocco’s Kasbah Trail

The Kasbah Chronicles: Sept/Oct 2018: My Next tour to Morocco

BIG NEWS!! JOIN ME IN MOROCCO
After a twelve-year hiatus
I will  go “home again” and join forces with
ADVENTURES BY THE BOOK

Adventures by the Book is pleased to invite you to join us on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience the culture and cuisine of Morocco with world-renowned chef and author Kitty Morse!

Coming out of retirement after 12 years, Kitty has graciously offered to escort us on an Adventure to her breathtaking country of birth for perhaps the very last time. For 10 days and 9 nights, we will visit 7 different cities on excursions such as a winery lunch, camping in the Sahara under the stars, a camel ride, visiting local markets, a special tea at Kitty’s family’s riad, and so much more!

We aim to provide intimate and unique Adventures, so this trip is limited in size, and we expect it to sell out quickly! To learn more, or to download a Registration Agreement and reserve your space on this amazing trip, visit OUR WEBSITE
http://adventuresbythebook.com

We’ll see you in Morocco, Adventurers! 

Adventures by the Book 

[P.O. Box 421472, San Diego, CA 92142]

 [(619) 300-2532]

MUSINGS:
In my backyard
OH! NO! FIGS AGAIN!

Catalina Island Rediscovered
Merci, Mr. Wrigley

Overheard
At the beach

San Diego Book Fair
Lobster Taco=WOW!

Vive le bilinguisme :
Pourriel?? (YOU MUST read the explanation)

From Morocco and beyond

Kitty in the media:
Paella a la Californiana

California Center for the Arts: New Show!

MUSINGS:
Figs again . . .

Many of you have followed the saga of my fig tree over the last two years. It became so prolific, and so heavy we had to chop it down. But we made cuttings. Now, they are reaching for the heavens. This summer, they produced just enough figs to share with birds, rabbits, and possums…but not enough to make jam or chutney. I’ll wait. LONG YELLOW figs developed specifically for our San Diego County micro-climate, are still the best I have ever tasted.

Kitty 2 for 2
The blue jay got there first!

Once the handful of figs harvested, we headed out of town for a return trip to Catalina Island off the coast of Long Beach (CA). I have written about Mr. Wrigley’s utopia before. Each time I set foot in Avalon, I am struck by the chewing gum magnate’s vision: He conceived the island as a holiday destination for everyman, nurturing the environment and excluding cars. The anchor remains its extraordinary art deco Casino, still the principal attraction.
Since we had explored Avalon on previous occasions, we decided to take a boat ride to Two Harbors, a diminutive beach nestled on a sandy crescent 50 mn up the coast. I can’t recommend this boat ride highly enough, especially on a sunny day. Two Harbors is also the narrowest point on the island, and you can walk from one side to another in about 20 minutes. We faced a small flotilla of sailboats bobbing in the emerald water during lunch on the beach, in an atmosphere reminiscent of a Mediterranean hideaway.

I announced the San Diego Book Fair in my last Chronicles. This is an event well-worth attending with dozens of authors from San Diego and beyond, and a wide-ranging children’s book section. Adventures by the Book (tour to Morocco organizer!)and Novel Network, my hosts for the event, had secured a prime spot at Liberty Station.

Kitty with Selina of ABTB
Shamefully, I had never set foot at this San Diego landmark located on the grounds of an old military base. No wonder Old Town San Diego has fallen into the doldrums. Its “authentic” depiction of the first settlement in the state is dusty and somewhat drab. Liberty Station, on the other hand, vibrates with activity, houses a couple of museums (New Immigrants Museum and a Museum of Comedy, I think?)..dance studios, stores, restaurants, and vast expanses of lawn for picnics and other events. A fun place in spite of planes landing and leaving Lindbergh Field. https://libertystation.com/directory/all
My main goal after signing a few books was to look for the FOOD! And the Liberty Public Market offered something for every palate: Lobster tacos anyone? https://libertystation.com/go/liberty-public-market.


Kitty in the media:
Coronado, CA (another utopia!) the “island” in the middle of San Diego Bay,  now ranks its own  Crown City Magazine. See Paella Perfection
https://www.crowncitymagazine.com/
and my recipe for Paella Californiana
(It works!)

Overheard at Carlsbad beach:
Two, fifty something women, walking and chatting:
I need to find a different way to express my love. . . . I guess!”

on the beach walk

Overheard in Avalon:
9AM.. group of 10 20-something men and women in tight fitting sports gear.
“Yeah. We just didthe Alps!”

New show at California Center for the Arts in Escondido (CA)
Call ahead for a docent-led tour.
DesEscondido/No Longer Hidden: Public Address Art Exhibition
September 29 – November 18, 2018
artcenter.org

LE FRANCAIS A l’HONNEUR : FRENCH IS IN!

Vive le bilinguisme :
https://france-amerique.com/fr/the-boom-in-dual-language-classes-in-new-york-2-3-demand-is-high-enough-to-open-50-more-schools/?

word: https://www.hopper.com/fr/corp/about.html

Who says French is moribund?
What is POURRIEL ?  C’est pas joli ca ?
Let me break the word down for English speakers:
Courriel=e-mail
Pourri= rotten
Pourriel= rotten emails (I surmise?) = SPAM !!!!!!!!!!
And you can reserve your plane ticket while doing so!
https://www.hopper.com/fr/corp/about.html

De Marrakech à l’ONU, la quête d’empowerment de trois jeunes Marocains

News from Morocco:
A new museum in Marrakech dedicated to WATER
https://lepetitjournal.com/rabat/lun-des-joyaux-de-marrakech-le-musee-pour-la-civilisation-de-leau-240269

Moroccans and water conservation:
https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-03-29/these-moroccans-are-turning-foggy-days-solution-their-water-crisis

A TECH CAMP FOR GIRLS!
PRI’s The World: Morocco and women’s career dreams
https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-09-11/these-girls-morocco-tech-camp-presents-rare-opportunity-pursue-their-career?

For these girls in Morocco, a tech camp presents a rare opportunity to pursue their career dreams

PRACTICE FRENCH IN THE US:
Practice your French in Louisiana : On parle français en Louisiane
https://france-amerique.com/en/louisianas-application-to-la-francophonie-to-be-determined-in-october/

Brush up on your provençal:
https://lepetitjournal.com/culture/labecedaire-des-expressions-provencales-225937

Provence: Les Romanichels (gypsies)
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/18/world/europe/catalan-gypsies-perpignan-france.html

Book news:
Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories
Ebook out soon on Amazon.com
NEXT:
Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued (French version)

Comme toujours,  as always:

Bismillah
and Bon Appétit!

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

The Kasbah Chronicles: November 2017

Kitty travels Afar and Afield

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

Merci, Statue of Liberty


New York today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The statue viewed from the Circle Line in 2017

 

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


What a stunning building

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

The new building

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 Meanwhile back in San Diego County:

 Calissons (Broadway brand!) for my maman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

MAIL ORDER GIFTS:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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