This is the book for anyone who has ever gone to Paris seeking French food and been completely waylaid from their Coq au Vin by the rich variety of ethnic restaurants in the city. With a far-flung variety of former colonies and protectorates, Paris is a melting pot for people and cuisines from all over North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. When we were there last year we spent a lot of time exploring the food available at places like the café at L’Institut du Monde Arabe, grabbing pastries from a spectacular Algerian bakery called La Bague de Kenza (subsequently written up in the New York Times, with recipes, and there’s also some great photos on Lulu Loves London) and trying to find a much-recommended restaurant called l’Afghanistan in the 11th arrondissement.
Tagged: Argan oil
It’s moving week so there’s not much cooking and baking going on, apart from me making loaves of brown bread to try and use up some of the six – yes, count them, SIX! (and that’s not mentioning the few that are down at the cottage, ahem…) – bags of flour that I have sitting on my shelves. The flat that we are moving into in Dublin is much smaller and doesn’t have a freezer so for a while there was a mad race to finish up all the frozen foodstuffs at our current place. Then we made a quick trip to DID Electrical so we now have a new under-counter freezer and the pressure is off. It still leaves me scratching my head at some of the things that I have in there though. Who knows why I froze a brioche loaf or what kinds of curry are in all those little plastic containers that I use for lunches? Certainly not the person who should have been labelling them!
For the last round of European Blogging by Post, I decided to make some Dukkah to include in my parcel for Petula in Italy. An Egyptian blend of coarsely ground nuts, spices and salt that you eat with pieces of crusty bread dipped in olive oil, I had never come across Dukkah before going to live in New Zealand last year. There it is often available at the many weekend markets dotted around the South Island and many food producers – Wild Country, elgani, Attitude Foods – make their own particular variation.
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.