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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

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.

I Love My iPhone But I Love Google Maps Just As Much

Monday Night Football was starting in half an hour. I was tired and wanted to get home to see the game. A steak and the grill waited for me. Problem was, several miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic stood between me and where I wanted to be. In my pre-iPhone days, I would have yelled at the traffic like a crazy person. Now I calmly tapped on the Google Maps icon. With the Traffic setting turned on, the miles of cars I was behind was highlighted by a thick red line. The red lines stretched all around me. I was trapped. And yet, enlarging the map, there were streets that didn't have those scary red lines. Taking a twisting, turning route, the Google Maps app guided me out of the thicket of red lines so I could get home in time to make dinner and watch the game. Thank you iPhone. Thank you Google Maps. This week my iPhone 4S keeps asking me if I want to upgrade to iOS 6. With so many new features, I want to upgrade but one reason that holds me back. No Google Maps. As ev

Utah's Dinosaur Bonanza

What kids don't love dinosaurs, those long dead monsters, some the size of small buildings, others, like the raptors made famous in Jurassic Park , small, ferret like and deadly. Recently we sent David Latt to explore the new Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City and to check out the football field sized bone wall in Dinosaur National Park near Vernal.  What he found was awe inspiring and beautiful, but the story begins with his sons. When my sons were young, we loved to read dinosaur books. They turned the pages pointing at the scary tyrannosaurs rex attacking a hapless three-horned triceratops or a silly looking long necked brontosaurus eating the leaves off a tall tree. Wide-eyed, they asked the obvious question, "Are dinosaurs real?" Those oddly shaped monsters didn't look like the lions, tigers, elephants and zebras we saw at the zoo. Without the fossil record, nobody would believe dinosaurs ever existed. Recently I was offered a tour of dinosau