Monday, July 27, 2009

The Beginning

Well, my friends, the obvious place to begin is Morocco. Morocco was the last country in which I lived before returning to the US. I lived in Oujda and Zaio, both in the Northeast and not very far from the Mediterranean coastline. Oujda, a fairly big city where University Mohamed I is located. Zaio could not be more different. Zaio, a small town located in the Rif section of the Atlas Mountains with less mix of Arabic and Indigenous peoples; Westerners like to call Berbers. Oujda being more Arabic. I will explain the genesis of the word Berber in another time.

If you think that preserved lemons, cinnamon and olive oil are staples in Moroccan cooking, think again. It is a rare Moroccan who can afford the dark green briny olive oil and things such as preserved lemons and sweet warm spices are extremely regional. For preserved lemons think Marakech and the Western Sahara where refrigeration used to be, and in many cases still is, a luxury.

You'd need to be staying at a tourist hotel such as The Hilton Casablanca to be fed what is known as Court Food; the old days food of the wealthy. If you are eating there then you're not tasting the real Morocco. The simple every day meals laid upon the tables of Moroccan households and tiny ''hole in the wall'' local's eateries.

Yes, this photo is of me with a raging sinus infection and having colored my hair auburn. I had colored my hair in England before moving to Morocco and this is of me preparing my first meal, in my first Moroccan house, wearing the first Moroccan house dress ever given to me by the mother of a friend in Oujda. This would have been 2004 near the end of April as I arrived on April 8, 2004.

The meal was a lamb tagine cooked in a pressure cooker as all Moroccan households do nowadays. A tagine is rarely, if ever, cooked IN a tagine any longer. There were also many side salads (slatas) and vegetables such as roasted peppers (fil fil), eggplant (braniya) cooked with cumin, the ever present bread (khoubz) as a utensil and always sauce tomatish as a condiment. Fruit, soda and bottled water are always at the table as well. All is served on communal platters and a meal is more than mere food. It speaks to culture and where one comes from.

Check in next time for a recipe!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who am I?

Just who am I running a site called The Authentic Ethnic? Well, I am many things to many people. I am a 45 year old woman currently residing in Maine. I have, though, lived in several states, on a few continents and in a few countries such as the UK (Wales and England) and Morocco.

This was borne purely out of my own frustrations at seeing ''the world'' from home cooks posting recipes to five star trained and acclaimed Chefs creating foods from many countries and yet showing a major lack of even the most basic of concepts regarding whatever particular country the dish is meant to represent.

I once had a website dedicated only to Morocco and Moroccan cooking, the real Moroccan cooking. Because someone puts tomato and basil in a dish does that automatically qualify it to be called Italian? Of course not! I still to this very day cannot watch such notables as Bobby Flay and Cat Cora do their ''Moroccan'' cooking. I simply cannot do it!

For the love of all that is good in this world, at the very least add ''style'' to the end of it; such as Moroccan Style, Italian Style, etc. I am so very tired of food misconceptions and myths that I intend to attempt to put a stop to it in my own little corner of the world at the very least.

I have written food columns published in Morocco, Spain and India and the lack of understanding I found regarding true ''ethnic'' cuisine was astounding! Need an example? Here goes. I spent three years writing a Moroccan food column in print overseas and then placed online at a popular cooking site post publication here in the US. I received an email one day from a very sincere lady wanting to throw an authentic Moroccan dinner party. So, she sent me her menu and asked me for ideas as well as what was missing from this menu. I had to write back and say ''everything is missing! You have an Indian menu here. If you'd like, we can work out a Moroccan menu for you together.'' She was shocked as was I.

As I have said, this is my own attempt once again, to bust the myths concerning cooking from around the world. I owe it to myself and also to those truly seeking to make the real deal and not some faux representation. I will write as often as time allows, post THE most authentic recipes and add some photos all being well.

So, hop on and enjoy the culinary ride!