Just a picture, in memory of my brother-in-law, who passed away August 23, 2013. Rollo Taylor, a giant of a human being. “The world is a great book, of which they that never stir from home read only a page.” St. Augustine (354-430) (Augustine of Hippo) © 2013 C. Bertelsen
Dealing with the death of beloved parents takes a great toll on people, leading them on journeys of self-discovery often not possible while parents still live and breathe and exert influence on their adult child’s life. Rarely does settling up an inheritance take sixteen years of patience and hair-pulling, constantly reminding the bereaved of their loss. But that is exactly what cookbook author Kitty Morse endured as she stayed true to her English father Clive Chandler’s last wishes, to preserve […]
Categories: Book Reviews, Cookbooks, Cooking, Morocco, Photography, Southern Food • Tags: Azemmour, Kitty Morse, Leonora Peets, Marrakech, Mint Tea and Minarets, Moroccan cuisine, Morocco, Southern cooking
It’s funny how sights, sounds, and smells trigger memories, isn’t it? Tastes, too. When I photographed a blue moon the other night, a very specific image bubbled up for me.* Perhaps, in a way, you could deem it a Proustian madeleine moment. Although I didn’t really eat anything. Standing there, trying to keep the camera still as the small telephoto lens pulsated in rhythm with each of my heartbeats, I remembered a night in Morocco, in El Kalaa des M’Gouna, […]
(I wrote this several years ago and include it here as a tribute to the Moroccans I knew then and to all the people who will begin fasting for Ramadan starting on Monday, August 1. Note that while Paula Wolfert’s cookbook, Couscous and Other Good from Morocco, seems to be cited everywhere, Kitty Morse — who grew up in Morocco — has also written a number of excellent books on Moroccan cuisine.) Manage with bread and butter until God sends the […]
To her sons who have extended the empire of her genius and made dear her name across the seas, France extends her gratitude. ~~ Inscription on the facade of the colonial museum, now the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration Before EuroDisney, people who might never be able to go to Tahiti or Senegal or Morocco often attended various fairs and expositions. One such exposition left a lasting mark on France: the 1931 Paris International Colonial Exposition. Twenty-five years in […]
To look at all the Maghrebi/North African restaurants in Paris, you might be tempted to think the food they serve appeared only recently in France. It’s not hard to visualize this scenario when you consider the exodus of pieds noirs and Harkis (local men who served as soldiers for France) that occurred as Algeria fought for independence from France, culminating in 1962 with the Evian Accords. Think about the numbers – guesstimates, yes: over 900,000 pieds noirs and 91,000 Harkis […]
Categories: Africa, African Cooking, Arab cooking, Cookbooks, Couscous, France, French Cooking, Moroccan Cooking, Morocco • Tags: Charles de Clairambault, Clifford Wright, Couscous, Françoise Bernard, France, Francois Rabelais, Garnantua, Ginette Mathiot, Harkis, Je Sais Cuisiner, Jean-Jacques Bouchard, La Bonne Cuisine de Madame Saint-Ange, Mohamed Oubahli, Morocco, Pieds noirs
Fatéma Hal, a Moroccan chef with a penchant for busting female stereotypes, cooks traditional Moroccan food at her Parisian restaurant, La Mansouria (11, rue Faidherbe, 11th Arrondissement, Paris), opened in 1984. The restaurant began with only women working there, including Fatéma’s mother, the cooking in “the hands of women.” Unusual for France, non? One of many “ambassadors” of non-French cuisine from France’s former colonies, Fatéma Hal is a moving force in the dissemination of Moroccan cooking in France today. Not […]
I first gazed on his ugly mug in French-influenced Morocco, more precisely at the fish market in Rabat. And like Beauty with the Beast, I fell in love. Sea devil. Crapaud. Baudroie. Lotte. Goosefish. Anglerfish. Poor Man’s Lobster. … It seems his name is Legion (Nomen mihi Legio est, quia multi sumus) … . Monkfish (Lophius piscatorius). Two-thirds of the body is just skull. Tiny triangular-shaped teeth line the rounded jaws that some call “Jaws of Hell,” looking for all the […]
As it fell on a holy-day, And vpon an holy-tide-a, Iohn Dory bought him an ambling nag, To Paris for to ride-a.* ~~ Child Ballad #284A: “John Dory” I first met John Dory at the open-air fish market in Rabat, Morocco. He’s a solitary soul. Doesn’t hang out too much with his own kind. And he goes by many names, John does: Saint-Pierre in France (also Poule de Mer, Sea-Hen, and Dorée), Gall in Catalonia, Gal in the French Midi, […]
Categories: Africa, Fish, France, French Cooking, Morocco, Recipes • Tags: Africa, Ballads, Child Ballads, Cooking, Fish, Food, France, French Cooking, John Dory, Louis Eustache Ude, Morocco, Recipes, St. Perre, The French Cook, William MacGillivray
It’s Lent. That means fish to a lot of people, even today, despite the relaxed rules of the Church. But how to cook fish? How to get past Mrs. Gorton’s Fish Sticks? Many, many ways. Let’s look at what people around the world do to get fish from the seas, rivers, and lakes from their pots and pans to their mouths, starting with Africa:* *For more on African food, see Fran Osseo-Asare’s magnificent blog about cooking in Africa, chiefly Ghana. […]
Northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt)** According to Harva Hachten, in her Best of Regional African Cooking, “the North African housewife can choose from up to 200 different spices and herbs when she stops to replenish her supplies at a spice stall in the souks of the medinas.” The guiding flavor principles in northern African cuisine include intricate spicing, particularly in Morocco, similar to the Persian manner. But flavor principles applied to North African cooking don’t begin and end […]
Kitchens, a form of material culture, often determine the shape of the cuisine. By the limitations imposed by the tools, the food cooked reflects the process. A case of the medium is the message?** In the kitchens [of Morocco] there was a great assortment of wood dishes, like low corn measures, scrubbed white, as in Switzerland ; rows of round pots, in which the fires are made, called nafe ; and kuskoussoo [couscous] dishes of pottery called Keskas, the covers […]
When the only bread you eat comes pre-sliced out of a plastic bag, it’s almost impossible to understand that “staff of life” saying so commonly applied to bread. George Orwell’s story of feeding bread to a hungry Moroccan worker pointed out the near reverence for bread in much of the world. And, in Morocco, bread indeed is the “staff of life.” Moroccan bread exemplifies the reason for the saying, as I learned, writing the following in a letter to the […]
George Orwell spent the winter of 1938-1939 in Morocco, for reasons of poor health. Author of stinging commentaries on colonial imperialism [Full-text: Burmese Days (1934) and “Shooting an Elephant” (1936)], as well as 1984, Animal Farm, and Down and Out in Paris and London, Orwell turned his blazing pen on French Morocco that winter. The following short passage comes from his essay, “Marrakech.” (Please remember that Orwell is writing a blistering indictment of colonialism, in spite of the way the […]
In the following passage, from R. B. Cunninghame Graham’s Mogreb-El-Aska (1898), Cunninghame Graham describes (in somewhat superior tones!) the spirit of communal eating in Morocco of the times (late nineteenth century):** Swani and Mohammed-el-Hosein were radiant, more especially because the Kaid had sent a sheep, which they had already slain and given to a ” master ” (maalem) to roast en barbecue. Although I personally was disappointed that we had not been able either to get an answer from the […]
Even without Islam, Moroccan culture would revere sheep — like the American buffalo, their flesh and their wool provide sustenance and shelter for people. And sheep come into their own around the feast day of Aïd el-Kebir, held seventy days after the end of Ramadan, which — in 2009 — falls on November 27.** Travelers to Morocco, or to anywhere for that matter, perceive a certain reality based on their cultural underpinnings. In what we now identify as colonial-toned language, […]
In 1917, American novelist Edith Wharton spent the month of September in Morocco. She wrote of her experiences in In Morocco (Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1920), taking an apologist point of view for General Pierre Lyautey, the French governor of the day. Of Fes (Fez), she wrote: There it lies, outspread in golden light, roofs, terraces, and towers sliding over the plain’s edge in a rush dammed here and there by barriers of cypress and ilex. … Fez is, in fact, […]
“How much more French can I get?,” I asked myself as the vendor behind the melons glared at my right hand snaking toward a cantaloupe.
Poking the tomatoes, prodding the chile peppers, breaking off a hunk of fragrant golden ginger, and deliberately bruising cilantro leaves to get a whiff of that perfume, I moved through the Parisian open-air market on Rue de Rennes, the Eiffel Tower looming behind me. There, in front of me, dozens of golden cantaloupes sat, pyramided in a perfect triangle.
Africa has a way of capturing souls. Years ago, I lived in Morocco, in North Africa. The food, the carpets, and landscape enthralled me. Then came Burkina Faso. Sub-Saharan Africa. Hot. Dry. Dusty. Mysterious. And seductive. The two years I lived there, in the capital of Ouagadougou, the name an opening into a world completely unlike anything I’d ever seen. Or even dreamed of.