It all happened by chance. I was saying goodbye to a friend at my front door when Don & Yoko, my delightful neighbours, arrived with a friend of theirs, Noriko, who was staying in their flat. I didn’t know her but I loved her because she was so quiet. Don & Yoko introduced us saying that Noriko is an animation artist. I liked her even more — one of my heroes is Jan Svankmajer. We said hello and I went back in. But as I climbed the stairs up to my loft I thought it would be quite wonderful to have an animated cooking video instead of the more common filmed ones where the chef says and now you add this then stir that and so on. So, I asked Noriko if she would be interested in collaborating with me on doing a monthly animated cooking video, just like my belly dancer of the month! She liked the idea and here is the first one, of a recipe that I found on a postcard and which I love. I hope you will also like it, both the Berber hamburger and the animated video!
I am slowly moving towards another momentous step in my life with the possible purchase of a spectacular plot of land in Sicily where I will build my dream home. Well, perhaps not quite a dream house but certainly one with a separate laundry room and cinema room, and with gorgeous views whichever way I turn, although perhaps not as varied as those on Mary Taylor Simeti’s farm where I am spending more and more time getting used to life in Sicily. And one way of getting used to life in a new country is to cook the local food which I did recently, grilling stigghiole (baby lamb’s intestines) with Mary and Tonino, her lovely husband. I should really be frank here and admit to having done nothing apart from watching them do the grilling.
There are belly dancers who are elegantly sexy and others who are brazenly so. And there are those who are cute and Kitty Fotsaty, who I have featured before and who is my choice for this month belongs to this camp. She is just adorable. Her smile seems genuine and her movement is gorgeous even if her shape is a little too lean for a belly dancer. She still manages to seduce, even more so in this clip from Bint al-Balad (the daughter of the country or the country girl depending on who is translating) with a fantasy New York skyline as a backdrop. I love how her dance starts en silhouette before she is fully lit and revealed to her elegant and entranced audience!
Compared to twenty years ago when I started writing about food when ingredients like frikeh (or freekeh) and argan oil were known to only a few westerners, there are now less and less secret ingredients, or indeed cuisines. You would think that with diners’ enthusiasm for global dishes and ingredients there isn’t much left for chefs or keen cooks to discover. But there is. And this is what we did last month at Books for Cooks, when I and Nadya Saleh from the National Museum of Qatar‘s Food Forum together with the delightful and very talented Aisha al-Tamimi introduced a keen audience to Qatari dishes they were totally unfamiliar with. The two cooking demonstrations were led by Aisha and were part of Nour Festival and Qatar UK, the latter being a collaboration between Qatar and the UK to exchange cultural and art events while the former is an initiative by the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to showcase Middle Eastern art and culture.