For anyone looking to experience some of the tastes, sounds and aromas of Morocco without having to travel too far, a Moroccan Market will take place next week, from Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 June in Dublin’s Wolfe Tone Park next to the Jervis Centre. Situated in Temple Bar Square last year, apparently the textiles, jewellery, pottery and – most importantly! – food were very popular. It’s certainly worth checking out. More information is available on the Temple Bar Cultural Trust website here.
Lonely Planet’s World Food MoroccoDoes exactly what it says on the tin. Having travelled and eaten our way around Thailand and Malaysia with the respective versions of these small, incredibly useful books, I recently added their Moroccan edition to my collection. Dense with information on everything from food customs to street foods and including recipes for traditional Moroccan dishes like couscous and tagines, they’re an invaluable resource while travelling. A mine of fascinating facts on argan oil, which is used to make the nutty breakfast spread called amalou; details of the ubiquitous mint tea and other drinks; regional variations in foodstuffs; and the utensils used in the Moroccan kitchen. A selection of great photos help you to identify ingredients and – Lonely Planet are nothing if not thorough! – it also has a dictionary of culinary terms, a glossary and useful phrases in both Arabic and French. As well as our well-used Malaysia & Singapore and Thailand books, the Lonely Planet World Food series also covers places like Portugal, Vietnam, Ireland (but, to the Boyfriend’s disgust, no New Zealand!), Greece and New Orleans. An invaluable travelling companion.
Honey – Moroccan honey is the most un-honey-tasting honey that I’ve ever eaten. We often had it for breakfast, the rich caramel sweetness drizzled across English muffin-styled Moroccan pancakes called beghrir or the flaky, multi-layered m’semen. Accompanied with a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a café crème, it made the perfect start to the day.Spices – although I’ve been really happy with my old blend of ras el hanout from Greg Malouf‘s Moorish, I couldn’t resist the chance of picking up some more to compare and contrast it with what I use. I also got turmeric, ground ginger and two types of chilli powder(at least I think that’s what piment fort/piment doux means!).Olives – a kilo of green olives in what the shopkeeper described as “piquante” flavouring and another half kilo of wrinkled sweet black olives. I loved how each meal in Morocco started with a small bowl of these olives and a basket of flatbread as we perused the menu. They never lasted long.Dates – considering the variety and quality on offer, I was restrained and came home with only a half kilo of the sweet, plump fruit. One dish that kept turning up in the books that I read while travelling there was of a roasted fish, stuffed with almond-filled dates. Must try and keep a few true Moroccan dates to try out that recipe.Preserved lemons – while picking up the olives and dates in a small shop near the Casablanca train station, minutes before we had to get the train to the airport, I couldn’t resist getting a few of these glorious-looking lemons. This, despite the fact that I’d made a jarful from some organic lemons before I left Ireland! Another thing for the compare and contrast experiments, methinks.Garlic – the small bulbs of garlic available in Morocco are much sweeter than the stuff that you can find on sale in Ireland. I love to use raw garlic but it can be very off-putting if, instead of gently cosying up to the other ingredients, it decides to loudly broadcast its presence. I brought some good quality garlic home from Paris and it lasted me ages so I couldn’t resist grabbing a couple of bulbs in Casablanca when I got the chance.
After two weeks of sunshine and heat in Morocco we’ve returned to an amazingly summery Ireland – perfect for last night’s sun-soaked family party to celebrate my Gran’s 90th birthday.Just in the door of our Dublin flat so sour milk has to be thrown out of the fridge, fresh supplies to be bought and the raw clay Berber tagine that we lugged through a couple of taxi trips, two flights, three airports and a pair of train journeys needs to be unpacked, along with assorted spices, dates, olives, tea, honey and god only knows what else from our travel-beaten rucksacks.And then I’ll have time to sit down and write about the meals, tastes and flavours that I’ve encountered during my time in Morocco!
Bibliocook is on tour! The Boyfriend and I travelled to Casablanca last weekend to meet with a friend – the Australian – and spend a couple of weeks travelling around the country. It’s a good opportunity to practise the languages that we’ve been learning, French for me and Arabic in the Boyfriend’s case, as well as doing a through investigation of the food and flavours of Morocco. Not to mention continuous stops to feed the BF’s addiction to the refreshing, sweet mint tea available on every corner. Unfortunately, the lack of internet cafès in the Sahara and absence of QUERTY keyboards may mean less frequent updates for the moment but I’ll remedy that as soon as I get back to Ireland. Now, time for tonight’s tagine…
A wee while ago, Sinéad over at Sigla sent me a link to a piece on Irish language podcast blog An tImeall on Cócaireacht agus Filíocht (Cooking and Poetry). My prowess as gaeilge not being what it should be, I had to get a friend to translate it for me – many thanks to the Schoolteacher – and am finally able to appreciate Conn’s kind words. There’s a link to the page here or, for my non-Irish readers, a couple of paragraphs translated below. Isn’t the Irish word for blogging – ag blagadóireacht – absolutely gorgeous? Compliments like these just might be the way to encourage me to improve my Irish.
I’ve often intended to but never quite got round to getting involved in Sugar High Friday. It’s a reoccurring blog event that was originally, once-upon-a-long-time-ago, started by Domestic Goddess Jennifer. This round is being hosted by Ruth, who is physically situated in Toronto – virtually at Once Upon A Feast and the theme she has picked for this month is ginger. I love this spice in all its incarnations, ground and used in a delicious little Ginger Gem, chunks of crystallised ginger studing a moist, sticky slab of Gingerbread or – at the other end of the spectrum – slices of the fresh root simmered in a savory chicken stock for soup.