From Tagine to Pastilla: Three Moroccan Cookbooks

06/19/12

The food of Morocco is deceptively complex. Glancing at a menu or visiting a welcoming Moroccan’s home for a meal appears to offer merely variations on tagines, couscous, bastilla, and fresh salads. But after wandering through the souks for an afternoon and spying the tins of deep scarlet, electric yellow, and terracotta spices or smelling the sweet and earthy fragrance from a modest pot of soup offered out of an equally modest store-front, one knows that the local cuisine in anything but...

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Jemaa el Fna at the Crossroads

04/18/12

At nine in the morning I walked through the large main square of Jemaa el Fna in Marrakech, the insistent sound of drums leading me from my riad through the winding alleys of the souk like aural breadcrumbs. It was a few days into my weeklong trip to Marrakech and I had already been through the square a half dozen times, with each visit offering up another version of the city I was just starting to come to know. This was my first visit to the square alone, and I was happy the drumming had...

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Nightlife in Marrakech

04/12/12

Lawrence of Morocco is a travel company run by a father-son duo with over sixty years experience between them. They are experts at creating tailor-made tours of the country they both love dearly. Below are some tips kindly sent to us by the son, Max, for a great night out in the city of Marrakech. Start at ‘Le Comptoir Darna Marrakech’ in Hivernage area for a great dinner and drinks. One of the first restaurant-lounges in Marrakech, this place offers both European and Moroccan...

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Cooking Schools of Marrakech

03/19/12

As I tied the apron around my waist, I looked at the ingredients on the table set out in matching bowls next to our cutting boards and knives. I was surprised that I could identify everything on the table – whole onions, turnips, carrots, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and peas, plus small bowls filled with ground tumeric, paprika, cumin, garlic, coriander, and preserved lemon, fingers of ginger, and sticks of cinnamon. How was it, I wondered, that I could come halfway around the world and see...

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The Hospitality of Couscous

03/18/12

My first meal in Marrakech was Friday lunch. Our guide, Stef, had led my friend Kay and me to a small square within the medina – the walled inner city – and to an open air café. The view was everything I would have expected from a city known as a cross-roads for tradition and progression: we sat side by side western travelers with cameras and young Moroccans in pants and blouses, conversing in French and Arabic. The café looked out upon a small marketplace, where unvarnished tagines –...

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A Conversation with Thalvin Winery

03/14/12

Morocco is considered by many to be a “new-old” wine producing country. The history of wine in this country is very old – over 4,000 years. But winemaking and vineyards on any sort of commercial scale appeared and disappeared regularly in that time because of religion, war, and other cultural factors. When Islam came to Morocco around 700 AD, the production and consumption of wine disappeared because Islam prohibits alcohol. However, viniculture reappeared a few centuries later when the...

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