Tag Archives: food travel

In Morocco, the Country of Tagines, Couscous and Dickensian Bureaucracy

Morocco Food Book

Food Travel

Destination: Morocco

Book: Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories by Kitty Morse (2012)

 

Even if I did not already have the country of Morocco on my “wannago” list, reading Mint Tea and Minarets would certainly have put it there in a mint-scented heartbeat. And when is the last time you picked up a “cookbook” and did not put it down until you had read through to the last page–breathlessly following a story?

With a supporting cast of delectable dishes, the star of Mint Tea and Minarets is Dar Zitoun, beautifully restored 16th century mansion known as “House of the Pasha” in the city of Azemmour.

Dar Zitoun, Morocco

Dar Zitoun, Kitty Morse’s riad in Azemmour, Morocco. Photo by Owen Morse, copyright 2013

Kitty Morse’s father, a British diplomat in Morocco soon after the country declared independence from France, bought and refurbished this grand riad. It is now all the fashion to find a riad — or rooms in a riad– to occupy when one visits Morocco, but Kitty Morse had the advantage of having a riad in the family and Morocco as a home.

Her French mother’s roots go back into the French era and Morse, who now lives in America, spent her formative years  in the country. What a conversation starter! Someone in Wisconsin, where she went to school, says routinely, “Where are you from?” and Kitty answers, “I was born in Casablanca.”

After she left for the United States, she kept returning to Morocco and made her life’s work lecturing and writing about Moroccan food. For many years she also led culinary tours to Morocco. The author’s background guarantees a food book that will be delicious, accurate and informative. The recipes that end each chapter are exotic but not beyond the reach of an American cook. For instance, you can turn your Thanksgiving turkey into a Moroccan treat with the recipe for Turkey with Couscous and Figs.

Morocco recipe for turkey

Turkey with couscous and figs. Photo by Owen Morse copyright 2013

Although Morse has written several successful cookbooks about Moroccan cuisine, it is important to understand that Mint Tea and Minarets is much more than just a recipe book.  Morse tells a riveting story that sweeps the reader into the emotional turmoil following Morse’s father’s death and decisions on what will become of the beloved house. As she describes her struggles with the Dickensian legal system of Morocco, we learn about Moroccan culture.

While you are learning about the frustrations of the legal system, Morse also introduces you to smen (aged butter) and preserved lemons as she presents recipes for a variety of couscous and tagines. And she takes you on tours of the marketplace and out into the country to see the source of the foods that go into the dishes.

Moroccan Woman with Wheat. Photo By Owen Morse Copyright 2013

Moroccan Woman with Wheat, Morocco. Photo By Owen Morse Copyright 2013

The recipes are mostly dishes made by the house’s caretaker and excellent cook–Azanour.  The food photography (by Kitty Morse’s husband) made me salivate and start making shopping lists so I could created some Roast chicken with preserved lemons and braised vegetables or an egg tagine with olives or kefta, a dish similar to the Greek meatballs that I sometimes make.

Moroccan grilled meat balls

Kefta, Lamb and beef brochettes, Morocco, Photo by Owen Morse copyright 2013

My only complaints about the book involve production, a common complaint with self-published books. The paper used, while providing a good framework for the beautiful photography, is heavy, making the book stiff and awkward yo hold.  

The Table of Contents lists the topic of the chapter’s narrative and the recipe contained therein, but does not say on what page the chapter begins.  There is no separate list of recipes, which is particularly annoying because there is no index. So if you want to find a particular recipe it is a bit of a hunt.

On the plus side, a glossary helps smooth out any difficulties you have understanding Moroccan words used. As I have said, the photography is outstanding. Most importantly, the writing is graceful and enticing.  

Whether you are interested in Moroccan food, or a non-cook interested in learning more about the culture of Morocco, Mint Tea and Minarets will be a definite asset in your travel library.

Note: I do not usually accept self-published books, but in this case, the author had several other successful books published, so I took a chance, and I’m glad I did.  All of the photos you see here were taken by Kitty Morse’s husband Owen and appear in the book. The book cover is linked to Amazon so that you can easily shop.  I am an affiliate of Amazon, so when you use the link to buy something, I earn a couple of pennies. Thanks for your support.

13 Best Places to Eat, Shop,Travel and Enjoy

Cultural Travel

Cultural Finds in 2013

By Jessica Voigts

A new year, and a look back at old favorites, leads me to realize that I’m always thinking about food and culture. Not a surprise, given my lifelong pursuit of both! Take a look at some of my favorite posts from the past year (hint: food cues forthcoming).

Recipes

Canadian butter tarts

Canadian butter tarts. Photo by Jessica Voigts

I love mixing travel and food. In fact, travel for me is food! In this article, Shakespeare and Tarts in Stratford, Canada , family reminiscences coincide with my Granny’s recipe for Canadian butter tarts. Ah, Stratford, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

One of the most popular recipes on Wandering Educators this year was my Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Bark – it’s easy, healthy, and delicious! 


Restaurants & Resources

Scotland Food: Mallaig Prawns

Fresh Mallaig Prawns, The Tea Garden, Mallaig, Scotland – Jessie Voigts

Oh, Scotland – full of such great food! In Exploring Scottish Food One Bite At a Time, I share my favorite restaurants – and some great resources for Scottish food.

One of our editors at Wandering Educators, Casey Siemasko, shared an article on the experience of Night Markets in Taiwan . She notes that your attitude is critical to success – and shares some shopping tips that come from experience.

Shopping

In How to Take a Delicious Cultural Odyssey, Close to Home I shared my technique of going global while staying local. Whether it is food, books, or art, you don’t need to leave the country to explore the world.

Our Chief Editor, Brianna Krueger, shares some shopping tips that all travelers can use, in Totally Nonsarcastic Ways Layovers are Awesome  Bet you’ll agree…

Art & History

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth

Chartres Cathedral labyrinth, Photo by Tom Flemming

In Tired of Visiting Cathedrals? 7 Reasons to Take Another Look , learn how you can avoid cathedral fatigue and really dig deeply into place.

And, I was very proud of one of our editors, Josh Garrick, who made art history when he was the very first American to exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum in Greece!

Movies

In Visiting the Shire you’ll be inspired by the landscapes of New Zealand, as shown in the Hobbit movies. You’ll also learn how you can take a Hobbit road trip!

In 6 Magical Items to Keep you Safe at Hogwarts, one of the students in our teen travel blogging program, Sarah Albom, discovers some fun and useful items from the Harry Potter Studios in Londonl

Holidays

Legend of Sleepy Hollow Story Teller

Jonathan Kruk performing at Old Dutch Church
Photo © Tom Nycz

This year, I had great fun at A Travelers Library exploring Medieval Christmas traditions and the Halloween back story of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow . What I love most about these articles is the connection from our practices and readings to history.

More history (and a recipe) awaits, in You Can Thank Napoleon for the Yule Log. Food writer and one of our editors Kristen J. Gough digs up the history of this holiday tradition – you’ll be surprised!

Founding Fathers Food Failure:Thomas Jefferson Crème Brulée

Food Travel

by Brette Sember

Book Cover: Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee
Destination: Colonial America

Book: Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brulée: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America (2012) by Thomas J. Craughwell

I was really excited to read Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brulée by Thomas J. Craughwell for many reasons. Continue reading