I have tried for a few months to get a place on the local Whole Foods’ cookery class on Morrocan cuisine and finally got in there tonight. I think there were about 13 of us; a young, laid back crowd. Well apart from the lady who turned up without booking – she was pretty uptight about being told the class was full, better luck next time, darling.
We had an introductory talk on kitchen do’s and don’t’s, and an overview of Morrocan food with tastings and much smelling of various spices and pickles – pickled lemon is surprisingly tasty. We were talked through the recipes before being split into three groups to attempt about 2 dishes each. Disappointingly we were the only group with all vegetarian dishes whilst the other groups got to play around with raw chicken and lamb. I basically cut onions, mint, and kept things neat and tidy but I did learn the technique for peeling tomatoes, not a difficult skill I know but just something I’ve never tried before.
Anyway, I took it upon myself to take some photographs so that I could loiter around the other groups to see if I could pick up what was going on with the more interesting recipes. Lots of onion grating and tentative checking of steaming pans. Serving
up time came quickly and the dishes were quite good, but we agreed that at home we should cook the meat for longer. I’m going to give it a go in few weeks when the hot weather is over and Menno’s parents are visiting. If I take a picture and sent it to Whole Foods, I’ll get my next class for free!
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When I was a young girl or maybe even a teenager, one of my favourite things was to take my school atlas and, using only the pages showing North America, transcribe all the place names into a separate little book with a freshly sharpened pencil, crossing them off as they were recorded. I loved the sound and the look of the placenames on the page and for some reason they seemed the most exotic and characteristic of all of the nations included within the atlas, despite the fact that I had probably not even made it to France at that stage. Walking by the local bookstore this morning brought that name-affection back to me with a notice for the evening’s book-reading, ‘Names on the Land – A historical account of place naming in the United States’.
I was absolutely satisfied. A variety of readers (some better than others) treated a good-sized audience to snippets of the book and opened up about bits of their land-connections and musings on nomenclature. And normal people asked straight-forward questions without any pretentiousness. For the country itself, I learned that some of the alternate names offered instead of the United States of America were: Freedonia, Alleghania and Columbia. The writer, George R Stewart, scorns the one that was settled for in the end. Needless to say, I bought the book and read three chapters in one night which, by the way, is really good for me.
‘No one knows when man came, or who gave the first names. Perhaps the streams still ran high from the melting ice-cap, and strange beasts roamed the forest. And since names – corrupted, transferred, re-made – outlive men and nations and languages, it may even be that we still speak daily some name which first meant “Saber-tooth Cave” or “Where-we-killed-the-ground-sloth”.