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November 6th, 2012

found in the closet


The things that my kids discover in the back of their grandparents’ closets or storage spaces is often thrilling to them, and they bring these items home with the same passion that their mother and her sisters surely once displayed for the objects decades before. This perfectly-preserved microscope kit (c. 1971) that came in the door yesterday is no different. Now where to find new glass slides? November 6, 2012. © Jeff Koehler.

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November 5th, 2012

Condé Nast Traveler

I am very pleased to be in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler, offering some of my top picks for eating in Marrakech. (I would add tangia as #6.) Turn to page 48 in your copy to read it, or click here.

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October 28th, 2012

Morocco’s best: Irocha


One of my favorite places to stay is Irocha, a small guesthouse in Tisseldey, not far down the eastern slope of the High Altas once over the Tiz-n-Tichka pass. It is at the very bottom left (the silver-blue car here is my rental). Views are as superb as the food and the charm. (This photo was taken climbing up to the beefy Glaoui-built agadir–fortified granary–that tops the hill behind.) October 25, 2012. © Jeff Koehler.

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October 21st, 2012

Moroccan saffron harvest, 2012

The Moroccan saffron harvest began a week ago about 25 km north of Taliouine, in the Anti-Atlas. The blossoms are picked “closed” but soon begin to open and offer a very floral aroma. Predictions are for a very good harvest. The harvest will gradually work its way down towards Taliouine itself and finish in a few short weeks. October 20, 2012. © Jeff Koehler.


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October 17th, 2012

fresh mint tea


The immeasurable pleasures of fresh mint tea. This glass was sipped beside a second floor terrace window at Café des Épices, in the souqs of Marrakech. October 17, 2012. © Jeff Koehler.

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October 9th, 2012

Morocco, curve by curve

I have a new opinion piece up on Zester Daily about the pleasures of discovering Morocco and what drove me on, curve after curve.

You can find the whole piece here. It begins like this:

While it is often easy to oversimplify the unknown, or at least the unfamiliar — a place, a cuisine, not to mention a culture — the real pleasure in travel or eating comes from discovering the unexpected and exploring the complexities and contradictions that we unfailingly encounter. When we scratch beneath the obvious and accessible, those polished but rarely three-dimensional surfaces found in glossy magazines or mid-century travel books, we find the essential elements that profoundly inform on the place. We need to sift a bit through the layers to find its truer essence.

Like any number of countries and their magnificent kitchens — Turkey, Mexico and even Spain spring to mind — Morocco frequently suffers a simplified fate, considered by many to consist of a largely homogeneous landscape and handful of familiar (though generally misunderstood) dishes.

(click here to continue reading)

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October 3rd, 2012

How to avoid splattering your eyes with couscous

After giving details on how to eat a tagine or roast lamb using *just* the three fingers of the right hand, Frommer’s 1981 North Africa guidebook has this advice on how to handle the next course in the feast, couscous:

“More likely than not, you will botch your first meal [of tagine or lamb]; your neighbor will take pity on you and will feed you with the choicest morsels. Accept them gratefully, but don’t stop trying yourself. However, don’t go to the point of tackling couscous. You will gape with admiration at your fellow guest, particularly at a country meal. Still using only those three fingers, they take a little bit of that elusive steaming semolina, knead it for a few moments, work it into an almost perfectly spherical ball and then, with a deft flick of the thumb, dispatch it into their mouths. Your own attempt will be pitiful and, since it is very unpleasant to splatter your eyes with couscous, you may modestly accept the spoon that has been thoughtfully set aside for you.”

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September 23rd, 2012



Are there any finer shellfish than navajas (razor clams)? Not in my opinion. South of Barcelona. September 23, 2012. © Jeff Koehler.

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September 22nd, 2012

Morocco review

There is a review of MOROCCO in the September-October issue of Saudi Aramco World, the intelligent, insightful, and always interesting publication on items from around the Islamic world.

Morocco: A Culinary Journey With Recipes From the Spice-Scented Markets of Marrakech to the Date-Filled Oasis of Zagora. Jeff Koehler. 2012, Chronicle Books, 978-0-81187-738-1, $29.95 hb. What better way to introduce a culture and a people than painting a vivid picture of their culinary art? Jeff Koehler does exactly that, offering a colorful and mouth- watering introduction to the cookery of Morocco while diving into the historical, cultural and social contexts of each recipe he presents. Contrary to the title’s southern Morocco orientation, Koehler thoroughly explores the cuisine—or, as he puts it, “the cuisines”—of the country as he narrates his wanderings from the Spanish-influenced northwest to the Saharan fringes of the deep south, with stops at many suqs and kitchens in between. Highly eclectic and diverse, the nature of Moroccan cooking is well captured in writing and photographs that blend sweet and savory and mix in a variety of spices in recipes such as bistilla or veal-shank tagine with pears, to name just two. This book can be an excellent resource for the curious cook and savvy foodie alike. —Manal Bougazzoul (SO12)

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September 18th, 2012



Along my walking tour, between the morning kasbah market and the covered Mellah Market in Marrakech.

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All text and images are ©Jeff Koehler 2007-2009 and cannot be used without his written permission.