Peanuts and the Cooking of West Africa

Writers throw out the words “African cooking” all the time. I know. I have written same words, to my great embarrassment. But stop and think about something for a moment. The term “African cooking” is just as ridiculous as calling the cooking of Europe “European cooking,” lumping together the cuisine of France with that of…

Gleaning the Lessons of Wandering

This summer is different from all other summers. This summer I’m signed up for a weekly basket of local, organic vegetables from the rented land of some starry-eyed young farmers. And this week’s bounty included four cucumbers ranging from Lou Costello plumpness to Bud Abbott skinniness, six carrots resembling the clown-twisted balloons available at all…

Memories are Made of This

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

Two Moons and a Ksar

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…

RAMADAN KARIM — The Fast

(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…

Couscous in France: It’s a Long Story

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…