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Showing posts from October 14, 2012

A Cooking Class High in Morocco's Atlas Mountains

Taking a cooking class is a great way to learn about another culture. In Morocco recently we had a cooking class in a very unlikely spot--a mountain top in the High Atlas Mountains.
At the trekking hotel, Kasbah Toubkal, adventurers head off by foot and donkey on trails that go deep into the mountains for all-day and all-week trips. Berber villages cling to the sides of the mountains, accessed only by dirt trails littered with donkey poop and walnut shells from the orchards along the path. For our cooking class, in a clean and organized kitchen, straight out of the 1960s, our group sat on low stools around tables covered with whole chickens, large chunks of bone-in lamb shoulder, fresh tomatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, garlic, zucchini and a jumble of herbs and spices. Haja Rkia ben Houari ("Haja" because Rkia had completed a pilgrimage to Mecca) had invited us into her kitchen to show us how to make a traditional Moroccan meal of couscous, tagine, freshly made bread and m…

Morocco from Casablanca to Fez

From Casablanca on the coast to the inland city of Fez in the northern part of Morocco, the area looks very much like the American Southwest.

Looking out the window of the van, there's not much to see.
A well-paved highway cuts through the flat, dusty farmland, passing villages remarkable only for the number of flat roofed houses with satellite dishes and the occasional donkey cart.
I'm with a group of travel and food writers visiting Morocco. Some of us are here for the first time.
Before we leave Casablanca we stop at the Mosque Hassam II, the 3rd largest mosque in the world, the largest in Morocco.  The scale of the doors makes visitors look very small. The detailing on tiles and metal work on the tall doorways is beautiful. The mosque overlooks the breakwater and harbor. A few blocks away, restaurants and clubs share the same view.  We grab a quick breakfast after our all-night flight before we climb in the van for a three hour drive.
Passing through villages along the way…