Thursday, December 31, 2015
Larache is quickly becoming our favourite weekend getaway— it's only about two hours north of Rabat, on the way to Tangier. Though there's a seedy element to the town, we've found a lovely place to stay, beautiful wetlands to explore, and delicious seafood.
Larache was once home to the French writer Jean Genet, whom I have yet to read— although these trips north have certainly piqued my curiosity. It seems the town is a point of pilgrimage for writers and French tourists, some of whom will stop at nothing to dig up information on Genet's personal life— we've heard some interesting stories...
Just a few more posts before the end of 2015—this one is composed of a little visit to an argan co-operative outside of Essaouira, where women chatted cheerfully over the pounding of argan nuts on stones. The Argania spinosa tree is indigenous to Morocco, and the oil that is produced from its nuts is believed to have all sorts of marvellous properties, from being a wrinkle-fighter to lowering hypertension and inflammation.
The process of extracting this fine oil is particularly interesting: argan fruit is first nibbled by nimble goats who climb the branches of the spiny trees (it's true, they get way up there!), and after the hard nuts are excreted, they are gathered up and cracked between stones (as seen above) to get at the seed. The seeds are roasted and ground into a paste from which the oil is squeezed.
After sampling the oil in the co-op's shop, I was hooked. Maybe it had at some point passed through a goat (although nowadays this process is sometimes skipped), but I didn't mind— the intense, smooth nutty flavour made me swoon. Now I don't know if it will soothe my joints or give me the skin of a twenty-year-old again, but I bought a few bottles to sprinkle on salads and veggies.
If you happen to spot a bottle of argan oil around, give it a try— the culinary oil is yummy, and the cosmetic oil is super moisturizing (I've also been trying a rose-scented argan oil face cream)!
Friday, December 25, 2015
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Monday, December 21, 2015
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Today, Harika turns seven— that's seven years of my life that I've been sharing with you! Twenty-three countries, a stack of sketchbooks that's approaching my hip, and so many delicious meals and glasses of tea. We've swapped çay for thé à la menthe, the Bosphorus for the Atlantic. We've seen the Himalaya, and drawn giant heads on Nemrut Dağı.
You read my stories, and commented on my photos and sketches— something that you reminded me I need to do more of. I'd like to thank you for seven years of kind words and encouragement— teşekkürler, obrigada, merci!
It's the colour of the sky, the colour of the sea. Distant mountains. A hot flame. Forget-me-nots. A jackdaw's eye.
No other colour has that ability to swallow you whole, to wrap you up— you can't get lost in yellow or red, orange or green. Pablo and Yves knew it.
I once heard that the Ancient Greeks did not have a word for blue. Cerulean, cobalt, indigo, and oh ultramarine— beyond the sea— what beautiful words! Lapis lazuli, like some incantation, the stone that drove Titian wild.
It's the ultramarine that my palettes run out of first.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Beneath a string of greened cannons and coloured by a sky with a blue so sharp it hurt the eyes, the Atlantic rolled and crashed against the pitted rock that is the western coast of North Africa. Gulls and gannets, reduced to flashes of white behind its waves, disappeared and reappeared with each turn. It was these waters that gave the Romans their coveted purple, the colour of elitism, the origin of which lies inside the shell of a humble mollusk, the Bolinus brandaris.
Somewhere amid the scent of salt and brine were notes of nut and honey— easily traced to a craggy-faced man in red loafers with a lopsided grin, who was selling bricks of nougat. Without waiting for a response to his offer of a sample, he thrust a nugget into my palm while muttering something about argan, and sauntered off. I had no desire for it, but I popped the sticky crumbs into my mouth anyway.
Oh he knew. He knew I would be hooked.