14
Jan

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I am a little late with my belly dancer this month. Must have been my Panama trip. Anyhow, my choice for this month is very sober and somewhat diluted by a singer, Huriyah Hassan, who seems to have the starring role, at least in this clip. I am not sure who the belly dancer is. I think it is Shadia. My mother would have know but sadly she is not by my side. Perhaps one of you will confirm it is her. I chose the clip because of the characters and the storyline. I love Huriyah who sings about her love for her neighbour downstairs, her decadent mother smoking the shisha surrounded by her friends or possibly family, the neighbours on the balconies, some of whom spring into dance when the music heats up, the lovely Shadia (if it is her) dancing beautifully and soberly and the drumming friend in pyjamas who is the cook in this hilarious clip which I posted last year. All in all a delightful scene even if not entirely devoted to belly dance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and happy new year!


21
Dec

noma-seen talking to lars & redzepi 2 copyI like to think of myself as a hermit even if it is really a fantasy. The same way I like to say that I am a country girl because of the summers I spent as a child in Mashta el-Helou in Syria and Reshmaya in Lebanon. In reality I am neither, and my life is mostly very urban and thankfully full of excitement, with the most recent being a day trip to Copenhagen to eat at Noma, invited by my lovely friend Seen, who you can see in the picture above talking to Rene Redzepi and Lars Williams who brought us most of our dishes, explaining everything in detail in his soft voice. He was utterly charming, as was everyone at Noma. It is part of Redzepi’s brilliant philosophy which makes his restaurant such a perfect place, both for the amazing food and the setting from the welcome and the attentive and friendly service to the aesthetics of the whole place, inside and out as well as front of house and back in the kitchens. I had already been there, also with Seen and her husband Fred and other friends, in summer two years ago and I was intrigued to see what the menu was like in winter. Naturally, it was very different except for one dish, the classic moss which this time was flavoured with cepes. Here are the photos of what we ate.

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19
Dec

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!

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15
Dec

alcamo-mary carrying the stigghiole to the grill copyI 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.

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