Ten Tastes of Paris

Paris Market

We’ve only been in London for four months, but I’ve been chomping at the bit to catch the train down to Paris. The fact that the land of cheese and wine is practically in my backyard is not lost on me: the glutton, the lush, the incurable food slut. Thanks be to my husband, the wonderful human who secretly purchased Eurostar tickets for my birthday weekend, we wound up heading south of the Channel much sooner than I anticipated. Um, we skipped the Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay, the Champs Elysees – partly to avoid the Springs crowds, but mostly to focus on the food binge at hand. Here are the highlights of the weekend:

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Lunch (and Snow) in a Berber Village

Snow in the High Atlas Mountains

Before traveling there, my mental image of Morocco was one of sand dunes and rogue camels and scorched palm trees – basically a hunk of smoldering desert. Of course, it’s much more geographically diverse than that, playing host to everything from coastal beaches to rugged mountains. Mountains that – by the way – ocasionally accumulate snow, as was the case during our visit. After having avoided the white stuff for an entire year, I must say that Africa is not at all where I expected to find it. Continue reading

The Communal Bakeries of Marrakech

bread bakery

One of the best decisions we made while in Marrakech was hiring a guide for part of the trip. A friend recommended that we contact Abdul, a native of the old Medina with a veritable map of secret passageways, crazy characters, and local hangouts pinned up inside his brain. He navigated us through the wilds of the souks as requested, but then refocused our attention to the aspects of the neighborhoods that truly make Marrakech a community. Continue reading

Ten Tastes of Marrakech

photo 1 (8)

The cuisine in Marrakech has remained close to to tradition throughout the ages with very little noticeable changes. There may be some rogue street vendor slinging kimchi and lamb tacos – but I sure didn’t see it. Nearly every place we went had the same offerings: basic vegetable salads to start, then meat-based tagines, followed by heaps of fluffy couscous. Chicken might be swapped for lamb, prunes for apricots, or a house-blend of spices used to boost flavor, but most dishes tend to stay within the tagine/couscous parameters. But that doesn’t mean the food in Marrakech is boring. In fact it’s rich, hearty, and warmly comforting: Here are some of my favorites: Continue reading

Thoughts on Marrakech

Marrakech Morocco

Sometime between being caked with black soap, and having my boobs scrubbed with what I can only assume was steel wool, I got the giggles. I should have clued in to the oddities to come within the hammam when I was handed a white paper thong upon entrance, but I didn’t. Now, here I was, sliding around on a hot marble slab while some woman hosed me down and repeatedly ordered me to flip over, as if she were basting a rotisserie chicken. I was eventually – mercifully – swaddled in cocoon of towels, ushered to a pile of floor cushions, and fed an endless supply of warm, mint tea. In the end, I felt much the same way as I did during the rest of my stay in Marrakech, which is to say: confused, mildly abused, yet exhilarated nonetheless. Continue reading