this is the archive for the ‘foooood’ category:


breakfasts in morocco

my favourite meal of the day does not disappoint in morocco — there are lots of different kinds of buns and breads to try, and orange juice is never far behind. the french influence can be felt on the croissants, baguette and pains au chocolat that often pop on the breakfast table too. all good things, in my book!

here are some of the things we’ve eaten in marrakesh, fez and rabat:

from left to right, krachel (anis and sesame sweet rolls) and beghrir (semolina pancakes), and then on the right there’s khobz, the omnipresent moroccan bread.

msemen are the pan-fried squares of dough. they’re one of my favourites and remind me of chinese street pancakes (minus the scallion). they also come in round versions, called meloui.

and finally, a new egg-dish: eggs with khlii, which is a type of beef jerky (dried meat that is preserved in animal fat).

i’m looking forward to revisiting a few of these this week, and try something new as well.

moroccan danone

we were pleasantly surprised to discover that danone in morocco had a couple of regional (and seasonal!) flavours: dates + walnuts + almonds, and another one with dried figs + honey!

these were pretty cool, and could easily sell around here as well. how about some regional algarve flavours? figs, almonds and carob, for instance — the holy trinity of the south! :D

walking on history, IX: garum

my first encounter with fish sauce (back in groningen via a vietnamese neighbour) might have been a bit rocky. i still remember him pouring the stuff on a hot wok and the unbelievable stench it would leave on the corridor as it evaporated… which sounds funny to me now, because i have to say, ten years later, it has kind of grown on me.

visiting the ruins of an ancient garum factory in the ria formosa, i wonder why the garum, the european equivalent of this fermented sauce, got lost in time.

in these stone tanks that are still around in quite a few places in portugal, fish bowels would be mixed with salt water and left to ferment and dry for several months. the resulting paste would be rich in protein and minerals — and probably just as stinky as it was umami. it was prized in roman cuisine where there are numerous records of its usage — poets even make jokes about its smell!

today, all that is left are these decaying tanks by the water… and some geek curiosity! :)

making pho

inspired by lucky peach’s summer issue, i decided to try my hand at pho.

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the butcher already saves the marrow bones for me anyway, so it was a matter of procuring the spices and saving up the bones till i had enough for a big pot of the stuff.

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that, and patience. the process takes hours of slow simmering, bones in and out in a methodical dance, culminating in the layering of noodles, meat and herbs over the broth.

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so was it worth it?

pho

YES! goodness, that little bowl was amazing. i’m used to slow-cooking broth, but the spices, ginger and fish sauce really took it to a whole different level.

the dishes though…

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pão de rala

one of the good things of going all the way to the top of alentejo for the boy’s flight, was the opportunity to visit évora, an oasis of history and culture in the middle of the region’s golden prairies. naturally, we couldn’t let the occasion pass without trying some pão de rala — a cake that the nuns in a local convent used to make. it’s a rather deceptive cake, as it looks just like bread and olives from the outside…

pão de rala

… but when you break it open…

pão de rala

… magic! :D the little “olives” are made of marzipan and cocoa, and the bread’s filling consists of tons of egg yolks, sugar, almonds and chila (fig-leaf gourd).

as you would expect, it was a-ma-zing, really delicate and soft… though a bit on the heavy size, as sweets go. ahem. turns out, in our naive enthusiasm, we bought a whole pão de rala, which i suspect was meant to be shared with a group of people.

“perhaps a small slice would have been a more sensible portion”, said the boy.

pão de rala

i regret nothing! :)