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