Friday, April 20, 2007

A Taste Of Morocco

In the late 1970s I spent a couple of very happy years in Casablanca, Morocco. My eldest son Ben was born there, with me 600 miles away in Oujda, in the far north. It was a hair raising trip back, I can tell you. I was working for Procter & Gamble and lived in Oasis, an area where we were the only foreigners. Since that time I’ve loved Moroccan food, and particularly what is virtually the national dish tajine. I love the spices (cumin always), the tabbouleh, the hummus, the aubergine and the flat bread and I love the way fantastic regional variations of tajine have evolved throughout Morocco. Now of course this intensely local food is being embraced by the rest of the world and you can experience it in most major world cities. Chez Es Saada was a great Moroccan experience in NY (it has now sadly closed) but Pasha in London continues to capture the rose petals and the romance. In Paris the view from Le Ziryab on the rooftop of Jean Nouvel’s beautiful Arab World Institute is spectacular and I can tell you the quail bastila is a delight. While you are in Paris don’t miss out on the mysteriously named bar, Andy Wahloo. Wahloo means “nothing” – or “I don’t have anything” - in Arabic and it’s a name that suggests the exact opposite of what this bar offers. It’s a fantastic place with great Moroccan pop art, terrific Arabic music, ice cold Casablanca beer and chilled Moroccan rosé.