Book Reviews

The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire
by Gaylord Brewer

The Banquet of Donny & Ari: Scenes from the Opera
by Naomi Guttman

Cooked
by Michael Pollan

Revenge Baking
by Randon Billings Noble

Biting the Apple
by Jeanie Greensfelder

Best Food Writing 2014
edited by Holly Hughes

Creamy and Crunchy
by Jon Krampner

Biting through the Skin
by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Feeding Orchids to Slugs
by Ann Mah

Mastering the Art of French Eating
by Florencia Clifford

Ivan Ramen
by Ivan Ramen

Third Thursday Potluck Cookbook
by Nancy Vienneau

Mint Tea & Minarets
by Kitty Morse

Prospero’s Kitchen
by Diana Farr Louis and June Marino

Mushroom: A Global History
by Cynthia Bertelsen

One Straw Revolution
by Masanobu Fukuoka

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie
by Peggy Wolff

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo

unrest
by Chloe Yelena Miller

The Hungry Ear
by Kevin Young

Best Food Writing 2012
by Holly Hughes

Dinner: a Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach

My Kitchen Wars
by Betty Fussell

American Cookery
by Laura Kalpakian

Apron Anxiety
by Alyssa Shelasky

Cucina Povera
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin

The Social Life of Coffee
by Brian Cowan

The Raw and the Cooked
by Jim Harrison

Modernist Cuisine
by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet

Horsemen of the Esophagus
by Jason Fagone

Coffee Philosophy for Everyone
by Scott F. Parker and Michael W. Austin

Corked
by Kathryn Borel

Food Rules
by Michael Pollan

On Reading
by Rilke and Ruskin

America the Edible
by Adam Richman

Interview with the author of Party Girls,
Diane Goodman

Death Warmed Over
by Lisa Rogak

How to Cook a Crocodile
by Bonnie Lee Black

Great Food,
All Day Long

by Maya Angelou

Love Bites: Marital Skirmishes in the Kitchen
by Christopher Hirst

Best Food Writing 2011
edited by Holly Hughes

Balzac's Omelette
by Anka Muhlstein

The Little House Cookbook
by Barbara M. Walker

Muffins and Mayhem
by Suzanne Beecher

As Always, Julia:
The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto

More...

Boozehound
by Jason Wilson

The Particular Sadness
of Lemon Cake

by Aimee Bender

The Bluberry Years
by Jim Minick

Livingston and the Tomato
by A. W. Livingston

Tomatoland
by Barry Estabrook

Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey
by Robert V. Camuto

Best Food Writing 2010 edited
by Holly Hughes

Curry
by Lizzie Collingham

Four Fish
by Paul Greenberg

The Physiology
of Taste

by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Far Flung
and Well Fed

by R. W. Apple, Jr.

The Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky

The Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball

Ratio
by Michael Ruhlman

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers
by Jessica Theroux

Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton

Candyfreak
by Steve Almond

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book
by Alice B. Toklas

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain

Appetite City
by William Grimes

Twain's Feast
by Andrew Beahrs

97 Orchard
by Jane Ziegelman

Born Round
by Frank Bruni

Cakewalk
by Kate Moses

Full English by
Tom Parker Bowles

Following Fish by
Samanth Subramanian

Eating Animals by
Jonathan Safran Foer

Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese
by Eric LeMay

For You, Mom. Finally
by Ruth Reichl

Farm City
by Novella Carpenter

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

I ♥ Macarons
by Hisako Ogita

The Hamburger
by Josh Ozersky

Best Food Writing 2009 edited
by Holly Hughes

Gastrology
by Archestratos

Eat, Memory edited by Amanda Hesser

Eat My Globe
by Simon Majumdar

Eating
by Jason Epstein

What We Eat When We Eat Alone
by Deborah Madison

The Sweet Life
in Paris

by David Lebovitz

Modern Spice
by Monica Bhide

Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories

 

by Kitty Morse
La Caravane Publishing, 2012
327 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9852164-4-3

Review by Paulette Licitra

Years ago I took Moroccan cooking classes with a chef named Hamid at the Tagine Dining Gallery restaurant in NYC. I still make these recipes in the terracotta conical tagine pots I rushed out to buy to replicate the ones in Chef Hamid’s kitchen. Now I coax the Moroccan stews in these pots on my electric glass-top stove in Nashville, Tennessee— many miles away from both Morocco and New York. I still feel transported by the scents of cumin, turmeric, and cilantro while apricots, dates, mixed with lamb or chicken fuse together into heady elixirs. Another transporting experience is a pot of Moroccan mint tea in my (now tarnished) silver Moroccan teapot.

Photo Owen Morse. Copyright 2011.Reproduced with permission.

But if you don’t cook Moroccan at home, are not near a Moroccan restaurant, and are nowhere near Morocco, you can still smell the aromas, feel the air and atmosphere, hear the languages of both Arabic and French, by opening a book: Kitty Morse’s Mint Tea and Minarets.

Ms. Morse was born in Casablanca and spent her growing-up years there. Her father was English, her mother French. So her perspective straddles both Western and North African customs. Her newest book (she’s written many) is an exotic yet personal memoir festooned with spectacular recipes.

Ms. Morse journeys back to her family’s home just outside Casablanca. She has a mission: to sprinkle her father’s ashes in the river near Dar Zitoun (the name of her family home) and to transfer the title of the property from her father to herself. Both activities come with a full set of red tape that puts Ms. Morse through an obstacle course filled with cultural antiquity and modern day greed. The true colors and characters of Morocco emerge. This is at once familiar, frustrating, and endearing to Ms. Morse. Her endeavors bring her back in contact with a large part of her identity—a part she treasures and needs. The longer she stays, the more she is drawn back into this unique lifestyle. And its food.

Bouchiab is the longtime caretaker and cook of Dar Zitoun, who Ms. Morse calls “a Merlin in the kitchen.” Throughout the book, he produces enticing concoctions you can almost taste from their poetic descriptions. The environments (atriums filled with plants and rooms tiled in bright colors & designs), company (famous mural artists, visiting Englishmen, trickster government employees), and stories (spirits living under a staircase, insistent bugs, a catty beauty ruining a manicure while cooking) all frame the meals with compelling drama (or comedy) making each dish tastier than ever.

Photos of Ms. Morse’s home, people she’s surrounded with, and the neighborhoods near and far capture the personality of her charming story. But you can’t help but dwell on the photos of food. I often wished for a fork to dig into the page.

My conical pots will soon fire up with Mint Tea and Minarets irresistible recipes: Beef Tagine with Fennel, Carrots, Olives & Peas; Fish Tagine with Raisins & Almonds. I must try the Tomato, Fava Bean and Preserved Lemon Salad. And for dessert: Orange Blossom Pudding with Pomegranate Seeds & Honeyed Almonds and Dates Stuffed with Almond Paste.

One cold winter night, while I still lived in NYC, I sat at the bar of Tagine Dining Gallery talking with Chef Hamid. I was waiting for a friend to have dinner and I was sniffling with a cold. The bartender poured tea for us in beautifully painted glasses. Chef Hamid drank glass after glass. He smiled and said, “I drink this all winter and I never have a cold.”

Here’s the recipe for the ubiquitous and ever-soothing Moroccan mint tea from Mint Tea & Minarets.

Mint Tea from Mint Tea & Minarets

4 1/2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons Gunpowder green or Chinese green tea
1 bunch fresh mint, Mentha spicata, washed under running water
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)

Rinse teapot with 1/2 cup boiling water. Discard water. Add tea and remaining boiling water. Steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Stuff pot with mint and steep another 2 to 3 minutes. Sweeten to taste and serve.