Sunday, December 18, 2011


Joha is a Muslim folk hero- he is known as Mullah Nasrudin in India/Pakistan - Hoja or Khoja in Turkey - Joha in the Middle East and Goha in Egypt. We have learned about him through Tahir Shah's book In Arabian Nights, kindly lent by Alec and Briony and which we are thoroughly enjoying. We have each begun to poke around for other tales of this uniquely eastern wise fool.

Here is one I liked today:

"Friends," announced Joha, "I have discovered the cause of all problems!"

Everyone was attentive.

"It is people providing 'solutions' " proclaimed Joha.

In the desert by the way, we covered 85km in two and half days with our guide Hatar and cook Abdul. We told jokes and riddles and sang songs at the fire, walked in silence and in conversation, found seashells and fossils, baked bread in the sand, climbed up dunes and down them, learned about camel diets and never showered once. It was great.

Friday, December 16, 2011


High Atlas Mountains

Walking through scripture landscapes, arid mountains cradling the lush green of the river valley.
Pomegranate= pomme graine= apple of seeds= the true fruit of Eden?

Breakfast in Assaka including hot bread in that blanket, cooked directly on the coals that morning.
Produce of the valley: almonds, olives, carrots, green beans, and some giant squash variety, much too large for this photo.
Evening in Assaka, tea on the 'terrace' to the soothing braying of donkeys
The whole walk was like this, perfect weather on scenery from another millenia.

Monday, December 5, 2011



Outside our bedroom window in the morning:

Breakfast on the rooftop:
almond cake, latkes, homemade doughnuts, homemade apple sauce, pomegranate, couscous pudding, some kind of cottage cream cheese, creme caramel, fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, mint tea

Exploring the palace gardens at the Kasbah museum

Where we found in abundance:

And looked over the wall to see the bay of Tangier:

On into the Medina (old city) where we saw, among many other things:

Out into the "Ville Nouvelle" and main town square full of new and not-so-new characters alike:

Continuing to wander the streets further afield, relishing moment after moment:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Paris wrap-up

Well, a lot of course happened in my last month in Paris, life got busier and I stopped writing. But here are some scattered images to give you a sketch of what was going down.

Way back before Matt arrived I went to get an extra key cut. This was the shop I chose to patronize. And would again if I only had reason. I had Matt come back with me later just to take pictures, none of which could really capture the depth of it. Just so many key parts and brick-a-brack.
After Matt arrived I was inspired to do more touristy things again, like go to the Rodin museum. Where we enjoyed watching live people as much as the sculptures:

While wiling away a few hours before dinner we meandered through the Christmas market on the Champs Elysees where we could peruse quintessential Frenchness condensed into stands displaying wares such as in this mountainous array of cheeses. The hot mulled wine hit just the spot though and we were surprised to find we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves amongst the usual kitsch.

Perhaps less evident but equally french to me, the Barbapapa stand, whose proprietor in this case reminded me somewhat of the Barbapapa family.

Then there was the chance encounter with Xiao Lin whom I had met in Taiwan in 2008 and happened to be performing in a show we went to see at the Theatre de Chaillot. I was thrilled to see her- she said it is like a Chinese saying about how two people meet on a circle and the circle is complete when they meet again.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Galettes and other good things

Here is a quick recipe I picked up from my flatmate. He comes from Bretagne (Britanny?) so perhaps the recipe does too, but I'm not sure. They are like the swedish oatmeal pancakes my aunt Andrea once introduced to me but you can taste also they're relationship to crepes.

  • EGG one per person
  • CREAM or creme fraiche, creme legere, I've found plain yogurt works well, I bet you could even do soymilk. enough to lighten the egg and not end up with an omelette
  • OATS he used 'son d'avoine' which is somewhere in between oats and oat flour and looks a lot like wheat germ, I have used regular oats, uncooked (but not those hardcore steel-cut, which I don't think would work) or I'm sure any combination thereof. I think really however much you want, depending on the thickness of your (non)dairy
  • optional SUGAR a dash if you feel like it but they're lovely without
Then that's it, beat the ingredients together, pour onto a hot skillet, and cook like pancakes!
I've been cutting and cooking an apple or a pear in the leftover ginger water from making tea and piling that on top. Highly recommended.

I successfully roasted chestnuts at home last week. This time I purchased rather than gathered so as not to poison myself. Very satisfying snack.

Tried chestnut cream/puree with nutella on a hot crepe one rainy day- that was divine.

The bakery around the corner makes the best millefeuilles/'napoleon' I think I've ever had. They forgo the sugar-coat topping and instead caramelize the pastry leaves. Um, yum.

Sorry no photos this round, this entry is for the imagination in your taste buds. And the recipe! Which you should all try and see what good variations we can gather.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fete des Vendanges

In my experience it is always a good idea to wander out from one's abode on any given Parisian weekend. This past Sunday I meandered up to Montmartre where they were celebrating the Fete des Vendanges which is the Harvest Festival- I think especially referring to the grape harvest which then of course means wine:

I asked the man on the right in this photo about the water boiling contraption below but I'm not sure I could trust the answer he gave with a twinkling eyes about discovering how to boil water only to be informed later that humans had in fact figured this out long ago. And then he gave some anecdote about pulling the beast by the horns out of the water? I could tell no amount of further questioning would bring me to any logical understanding of the thing, so instead I took a photo and wished I still had 3euros for a cup of hot wine.

Apparently there are in fact vineyards in the city tucked up on the hillside of Sacre Coeur- urban farming anyone? And Montmarte is it's own republic with a drum band:

They joined up for one number with the accordionist at the Raclette stand- mmm melting cheese. So the festival consisted mostly of stands where various regions sold their goods- and these were mostly wines but along with the raclette there were several excellently rustic foods to be savored: potatoes and Mont d'Or cheese, Pondarin goat rounds, oysters, escargots, and this very impressive sausage stand where I have to say I thought fondly of Kyle.

As an aside here I am also including this article which a friend recently sent: Lost in Paris. A travel writer describes his experience attempting to rediscover this city he already knows and loves. And, with the exception of his purchase of a 200 euro umbrella, I find myself having many of the same reactions.