Brunch moment

Isn’t brunch the most incredible idea? When you get up late, you don’t have to rush to work and you just know that somewhere, in a nice bar, a lovely meal halfway between breakfast and lunch is waiting for you. You sit still a little asleep, take a sip of coffee and eat cheese staring at flowers on your table and chat about your week.

Hamburg, Germany 2016 @pandaonavespa

Since I moved to Hamburg, I have been craving for some little and romantic places and I finally found one: N. was in town and his family too, so we met at this stunning vegetarian/vegan café called Café Koppel and had a beautiful brunch. The location and the table setting were so gorgeous that I could not help but taking plenty of pictures while eating, enjoy! O, and those sugar crystals are so beautiful!

Hamburg, Germany 2016 @pandaonavespa
Hamburg, Germany 2016 @pandaonavespa
Hamburg, Germany 2016 @pandaonavespa
Hamburg, Germany 2016 @pandaonavespa
Hamburg, Germany 2015 @pandaonavespa
Hamburg, Germany 2015 @pandaonavespa
Hamburg, Germany 2015 @pandaonavespa

(not so much) guilty pleasure

Do you ever feel like skipping a boring lunch for a sweet combination of sugar, cream and caffeine? No? You should try, o yes, you should! I mean, for me it’s kind of a regular thought and craving for sugar, but there is nothing better than this combination in a grey and cloudy day in Turin to keep the engine running: bon appétit!

Café Maure in Rabat, or how to find beauty in plenty of pastries and a nice view

That morning in Rabat was weird. 

I spent the night before reading live all about the attacks in Paris and I didn´t sleep much.

Johannes and I met to have breakfast and around us the air was weird: all the Western tourists we met had a weird look on their faces, these tired and sad eyes.

We walked here and there in those amazing little white and blue streets of the Kasbah until we arrived at the Café Maure.

This calm white and blue café with a big terrace facing Salé and the cliffs offers a great Moroccan mint tea and some -very yummy- typical pastries. The view is absolutely amazing, very relaxing and accompanied by the sound of small waves. It somehow feels like being in a mixture between southern Italy and Greece: so confusing!

Of course I could´t resist and I took one of each and… o gooosh! Let me just tell you that they are pure sugar and I love sugar. Johannes as well took some, but he is a polite and elegant young man, so he just took some (but tried mine…). Overall we had to pay 100 DH -10 euros- for my sugar craving, but it was worth it!

We had some problems with a local cat (o, yes: there are a lot of cats) who absolutely wanted to share our pastries and who decided to block the view sitting in front of us. But she was cute, so it´s ok.

I have been reading that in this bar women can go without problems, even if they are not accompanied by a man. So yay! Definitely go there! But watch-out: it looks like it´s closed during the Ramadan, and it always closes after the last prayer (the 5 pm one).

Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Rabat, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa

Let´s -finally- talk about the real Moroccan couscous!

We all have had couscous one day or another. You know, that little yellow grains that  you put in boiling water for three minutes? Well, forget everything you know and get ready to discover the REAL Moroccan couscous!

As you know, preparing couscous is a long and hard work, reason why the cooking process has to be long enough to respect the preparation effort. 

What you might not know is that couscous is a Tamazight recipe and not an Arab one and that, in the Berber language, it´s called seksu. It is eaten on Friday, because it takes quite a long time to digest it and on Friday, after the big prayer, everyone can rest and let their body work the couscous. 

Here we are going to learn how to make the amazing seksu (please consider that here they usually prepare a huge amount of couscous, because they can keep it in fridge for a few days).

What you need:

  • the couscous-pot (you can use what you have at home, of course, but here they use that one)
  • a big pie dish

Ingredients for 4 people (I am writing the vegetarian recipe, but you can add the meat that you want)

  • couscous 500 gr
  • onions 2
  • carrots 2
  • potatoes 2 or 3
  • courgette 2
  • chickpeas 50 gr
  • raisin 50 gr
  • tomatoes 2 or 3
  • coriander
  • oil 3 spoons more or less
  • salt

What to do:

  • wash, chop (big parts) and peel the onions, potatoes carrots and chickpeas, put everything is the lower part of the pot and start simmering. Add some salt. If you want to use meat, it should be added here and now;
  • meanwhile you should moisten the couscous with some cold water and knead it with your hands: there must be no lumps;
  • put the couscous in the upper part of the pot (steam cooking) for 30 minutes;
  • take the couscous out of the pot and put it in a big pie dish, spray it with some cold water and work it again with your hands. Add salt and oil;
  • put your couscous again in the upper part of the pot adding the raisins, tomatoes, courgette and coriander. It should cook for another half an hour;
  • put everything together in a big dish. The couscous should be under the vegetables (and the vegetables should not me thrown there, but put radially. And, if there is an entire chicken added to the menu -see the picture below- it should be put on top of everything).
WP_20151019_023 (2)
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa

And one more thing: here everyone eats from the same big dish and they don´t use forks, spoons or knives: they eat using bread. I don´t do it because I lose everything contained in my little slice of bread “on the road” between the dish and my mouth.

My Moroccan al-ftour (breakfast) + a little dictionary

I am not at all a breakfast person: I would much rather sleep five minutes more and have a disgusting coffee on the go than waking up and making something to eat.

But, when someone makes breakfast for me… well, the situation is way different! Here in Morocco, for example, Fatima always prepares a great breakfast.  

Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa

As you can see, there is everything! So this is how a real breakfast is here:

  • hard boiled eggs (there are chickens living on the roof)
  • orange juice (real orange juice!)
  • tea, of course. And if you want to know how to make a real Moroccan one, here is how 
  • home made cakes or pancakes
  • home made bread -> here is the recipe for Fatima´s bread
  • olive oil
  • olives (happy me)
  • butter (never touched it here: it looks so damn fat)
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa

What I really like is that they have their little routines: some things are served in cute tajines and the bread is always protected by a cotton cloth. 

Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa

And now let´s learn some breakfast-vocabulary! O, remember: these are darija and not tamazight words.

  • breakfast -> al-ftour
  • coffee -> ahwa
  • mint tea -> thé b´na na (easy to remember, because it sounds like “the banana”)
  • tea with milk -> thé wa hleb
  • with sugar -> wa sukur
  • without sugar -> bla sukur
  • orange juice -> asir limun (yes, I know: limun sounds like lemon…)
  • eggs -> bayd
  • bread -> khubz
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa

How to make a perfect Moroccan bread – and a little every-day-story

Fatima and I don´t speak the same language: she speaks the tamazigh dialect and I don´t.

I learned some of the words the kids say when they sit at the table, but they usually speak a mixture between Moroccan Arab, tamazigh, French and a local dialect, so I don´t really know in which language I am learning what.

Fatima and I use gestures to have conversations and it sometimes drives us into weird and incomprehensible talks, but that´s the fun of it!  

One day I was chilling and reading a book, when she came saying a´ghrum, a´ghrum, meaning bread. I followed her and she took me to the kitchen where she taught me how to make Moroccan bread and how to cook it:

What you need:

  • 500 gr of durum wheat flour
  • 500 gr of white flour 00
  • warm water
  • a little bit of salt (2 coffee spoons more or less)
  • a cube of yeast

How to prepare the dough:

  • mix the two flours
  • dissolve the yeast in warm water and mix it to the flours
  • add salt
  • knead until the dough is soft and dry
  • leave the dough there for more or less 30 minutes
  • roll out the dough making big circles (they should not be more than 2 cm thick)
  • leave everything there for another hour

How to cook the bread:

This is the tricky part to describe: Fatima has a special oven made of cement, soil and something else, so for her the timing is different. Let´s do the Fatima-way and the normal-oven-way

  • Fatima-way: the dough is in the oven for no more than 5 minutes. She turns it when the upper side gets brownish-goldish
  • normal-oven-way: 250 degrees for between 10 and 30 minutes (just look at the color) turning it when it becomes brownish-goldish.

When it was finally ready, Fatima threw the new bread on a dusty palm leaf lying on the ground. The same one that she also uses to sweep the terrace-floor. But what doesn´t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Buon appetito!

Aoufous, Morocco 2015
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Aoufous, Morocco 2015
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Aoufous, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa

Ivory Coast: the cocoa farmer tastes chocolate for the first time

I don´t know if you already watched this video, but you definitely should.

It´s the story of a cocoa farmer and his friends who taste chocolate for the first time. 

Ivory Coast is the largest exporter of cocoa beans in the world, but here we see how some local farmera who have been growing them for years, don´t know what the beans are used for. The reactions we see in this video are at the same time funny, sweet and very sad: “Are you sure that this is made from cocoa beans?”, “This is why the white man is so healthy” “It´s so sweet!”…

And what is absolutely incredible is that chocolate isn´t easy to find in Ivory Coast and that, when you find it it´s very expensive: 2.70$, which is a third of what a local farmers makes a day.

Yet, once again, life is so damn unfair.

Fatima and her ladies: the cous cous queens of Morocco

Goulmima is a little dusty village between the desert and the Atlas mountains in the south-east of Morocco. Here a woman called Fatima, who already was part of Slow Food, decided to take action and to create her own convivium (local Slow Food chapter).

Fatima lives with her sister and her mother and, in a house in front of a mill, she created a cooperative of women who make cous cous. She buys the corn from a local farmer in order to control the quality of her product from the seeding of the plant to the packing.

We had to chance to follow her and the other women to see how cous cous is made. It´s a 5 steps process:

  • the grains are taken from the farm to the mill, where they become flour
  • the flour is put in the water where it becomes a solid block
  • the block is worked with dry hands and crumbled until it becomes granules
  • the granules are worked with a sieve
  • the granules who passed through the first sieve are worked with a smaller one and so on, until the granules reach the desired dimension.

This group of less than 10 women works every day and all day long sitting on the ground. They have a runaway imagination and they try to spice up their product adding some herbs and figuring out how to expand their market: a pure example of how women can become powerful in a patriarchal culture. 

Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa

The new Food Menu: get ready for some kick-ass traditional recipes from everywhere

I decided to introduce a new menu for the blog: the – damdamdaaaam- FOOD menu!

I have been following the great Legal Nomads blog for quite a while now and I love the philosophy behind it: Jodi is a food traveler and she even published a book about it – congratulations!

Watching her videos and reading about her adventures, I realized that she is right giving so much importance to food, so I decided to add the “food menu” to my own little blog (I don´t want to copy her, let´s be clear about that).

Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa
Goulmima, Morocco 2015 @pandaonavespa

What I hope to do is to share some local recipes and traditional food and drinks of my current Moroccan adventure and of many others yet to come. 

Food is a very important aspect of a culture and it might differ a lot from one country to the other, plus it´s so good! And, if you think about it, when you travel somewhere one of the things impacting you the most is what – and how – you eat. 

So, let´s see if the experiment is going to work! Meanwhile bon appetit and, if you have some traditional recipes from your Country or from a trip somewhere keep them ready: I will want to know them very soon!

Happy Food Day!

The Food Day celebration wants to help people “eating real”, meaning that we should cut back on sugar drinks, salted packaged food and fatty factory-farmed meat in favor of what is healthy: fruits, vegetables, whole grains etc.

What we want to promote today is a different vision of food: food can be affordable, healthy and tasty at the same time, and it can be produced with care for the environment, animals and all the people growing it.

Everything started at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in 2011, when Food Day has been initiated to celebrate what is good, healthy and fair.

You you wish to know something more, here is the website:!

And, bon appétit!