Author Kitty Morse served up a banquet of Moroccan culture

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At the most recent presentation in the “Meet the Author” series at Lakeside Library, Kitty Morse treated patrons to a banquet of Moroccan culture. Born in Casablanca, Morocco, of a French mother and British father, Morse is the author of eleven books, five of which are about Moroccan cuisine.

Branch Librarian Doris Adam-Hillert, who has visited Morocco, welcomed everyone to the talk. She met Morse when the later gave a talk at the Fallbrook Library. She bought one of Morse’s books and tried some recipes.

At the most recent presentation in the “Meet the Author” series at Lakeside Library, Kitty Morse treated patrons to a banquet of Moroccan culture. Born in Casablanca, Morocco, of a French mother and British father, Morse is the author of eleven books, five of which are about Moroccan cuisine.

Branch Librarian Doris Adam-Hillert, who has visited Morocco, welcomed everyone to the talk. She met Morse when the later gave a talk at the Fallbrook Library. She bought one of Morse’s books and tried some recipes.

“I became a fan of hers right away. I’m sure you all will, too,” Adam-Hillert said.

Morse used one of her most popular books, “Mint Tea and Minarets,” as the platform for her talk on the cuisine and culture of that exotic North African country. At the age of 17, Morse immigrated to the United States and obtained her Master’s Degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While still a student, Morse began catering Moroccan diffas, or banquets, and taught Moroccan cuisine in cooking schools and department stores all over the United States.

“My family owned a Moorish manor. My father discovered the house in ruins and spent the next two years restoring it to its original state,” Morse said.

Everything Moroccan surrounded Morse from the time she was an infant. Persian rugs, the pottery, art, the people in their native dress and dance, and of course the food filled her senses. “I spent many holidays going with my brother trying to get the ethnic dancers to come to our program in Marrakesh,” she said.

Morse was destined to teach the intricacies and intrigue of the culture she had come to love. “My recipes are simple, but I do not forsake flavor,” she said, while library patrons sipped Mint Tea.

You are drinking what is considered the Moroccan national beverage,” she said. “It’s just Chinese Green tea, spearmint and sugar. But I put less sugar in mine than the way most Moroccans like it. And the spearmint I use is the kind you can grow in your back yard.”

Morse showed slides of photos she had taken of her family home in Morocco as well as flavorful dishes cooked in the traditional tajine pot. “This pot is the forerunner of your Crock-Pot that we have today,” Morse said.

In the pot, a stew of meats, vegetables, fruits and spices would cook all day. “It’s great for company, and not expensive. Plus, it usually has all the good parts of meat like lamb shoulder,” Morse said.

In Morse’s “A Biblical Feast,” she features dishes that are mostly meatless. “That’s because this book is on the cuisine of the poor, who could not afford to buy meat,” she said. 

“But people can count on two things in any Moroccan main dish: beauty and plenty of flavor. 

Moroccan cooks don’t like ugly food. And don’t like the ‘picante’ taste, the rally hot. They want to taste their food,” Morse said.

Moroccans use plenty of spices and seasonings, such as ginger, turmeric, paprika, cumin and cinnamon as well as salt and pepper. They also use saffron, the world’s most expensive spice found only in Morocco.

“You can buy all of your spices for Moroccan food right from your own grocery store. But you do have to special order saffron,” Morse said.

As the final touch on Moroccan cuisine tips, Morse showed people how to preserve lemons which are used to flavor dishes of every kind.

“I learned how to do this from my great-aunt in Casablanca,” she said.

Lakeside resident Elaine Hurney spoke up.

“This is great to learn. My daughter has goats and lots of lemon trees. With all these recipes, she will know what to do with all those lemons and how to make feta cheese,” she said. 

For more information on Morse and her books, go to www.kittymorse.com.

David Putnam will be the featured author in the next “Meet the Author” talk, scheduled for September 13 at 10:30 a.m. 

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