Did You Know These Facts About Morocco?

An Arabic name for Morocco, al-Magrib al-Aqsa, means “the extreme west” and attests to Morocco’s place as the westernmost country in the Arab world.

* In Morocco, it is considered impolite to handle food with the left hand and to say no to meat if it is offered at a meal.

* White is the color of mourning in Morocco. A Moroccan widow wears white for 40 days after the death of her husband to show she is in mourning.

* Moroccan Berber women still have tattoos in geometric designs on their faces, sometimes covering much of their forehead, cheeks, and necks. These are marks of tribal identification and date from a time when it was necessary to be able to spot women of one’s tribe who had been carried off in raids.

* In Morocco, it is estimated that there is one dentist for every 800,000 residents, and the standard treatment for a toothache is extraction. At country souks (markets), tooth-extraction specialists are identified by their set of pliers and small carpets littered with bloody molars.

* Moroccans jokingly call their tap water Sidi Robinet (Sir, or Lord, Tap), and it is drinkable in most parts of the country.

* The word kasbah probably derives from the Turkish kasaba, meaning small town. In contemporary Morocco and all of North Africa, it is generally used to refer to the fortified strong point in a city.

* Often called the “Red City,” Marrakech, Morocco, requires sun protection and headgear of some kind all year-round, even during winter.

* The English word “genie” comes directly from the Arabic word djinn, denoting a spiritual being that may play some part in human affairs if called upon. In Morocco, djinns are believed to frequent places associated with water: public baths, drains, sinks, and even pots and pans….


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Moroccan Harcha Recipe

INGREDIENTS
2 cups (350 g) fine semolina (not durum flour)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (125 g) soft or melted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup (120 to 180 ml) milk
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1/4 cup coarse semolina (optional)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: Approx. 12 3″ flatbreads

If a picture is worth a thousand words this is the best recipe explanation we’ve seen:

http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/tipsandtechniques/ss/how_to_harcha.htm#showall

If you want to enjoy authentic Harcha

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MYHTOLOGY OF ATHENS

Athens_Small

Athens is the capital city of Greece and has been continuously inhabited for over 7000 years. It provided the backdrop for various myths and legends for ancient Greeks.

Its name derives from the goddess of wisdom, Athena, who became the city’s patron goddess after a contest with Poseidon. The two gods competed for who would get the honour of becoming the patron god of the city, and offered gifts to the Athenians. Poseidon hit the ground with his trident and created a spring, showing that he would offer significant naval power. Athena, on the other hand, offered the olive tree, a symbol of prosperity and peace. The Athenians, led by King Cecrops I, decided to take Athena’s gift, thus making her the patron goddess.

The city was also the starting point for the story of Aegeus and Theseus. Aegeus was the king of Athens; during some games that were organised in the city, the son of King Minos of Crete was killed, and Minos waged war against Athens, emerging victorious. As punishment, Athens was forced to send young men and young women to Crete annually, in order to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, who dwelt in the labyrinth under the palace of Minos. At some point, though, Theseus, son of Aegeus, decided to go as part of the sacrifice, planning to kill the Minotaur. He was successful in his quest, but upon returning to Athens, he forgot to change his ship’s sails to white; when Aegeus saw the black sails, meaning that Theseus had died in the labyrinth, he fell into the sea, and drowned, giving his name to what now is called the Aegean Sea.

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GREEK CUISINE

Mediterranean Greek Cuisine
Mediterranean Greek Cuisine

The Greek diet is the perfect example of traditional Mediterranean eating. It’s based around a variety of colourful and flavourful foods that are high in nutrients and low in animal fats.

Wheat is a staple part of Greek cuisine. It’s used to make a variety of breads including pita bread and crusty whole grain peasant bread. Bulgur, which is made from cracked whole wheat, is eaten as an accompaniment to hearty stews or added to soups and salads. Pasta, which was introduced to the Greeks by the Italians, is also a popular wheat-based food. Another important grain food in the Greek diet is rice, which is used in pilafs and bakes, served with stews or wrapped in grape leaves to make dolmades.

Like wheat, olives have been cultivated in Greece since ancient times. The golden green oil extracted from the first cold pressing of olives is called extra virgin olive oil, and it is used in some form in most traditional Greek dishes. Crusty bread dipped in a little extra virgin olive oil is also a popular accompaniment to food.

Greece is almost surrounded by sea, so it’s no surprise that fish and shellfish are eaten regularly.

Meat doesn’t play a prominent role in traditional Greek cuisine. It’s usually reserved for festivals and special occasions or used in small amounts as a flavor enhancer.

The warm climate of Greece makes it ideal for growing vegetables and fruits, and these are eaten in abundant amounts. These include tomatoes, garlic, onions, spinach, artichokes, fennel, lettuce, cabbage, horta (wild greens), zucchini, eggplant and peppers.

Fruits are eaten either fresh, or preserved by drying. Popular varieties include apricots, grapes, dates, cherries, apples, pears, plums and figs.

Many types of nuts are used in cooking or eaten as snacks—particularly pine nuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachios.

Wine is consumed regularly in Greece, but mainly with food, and in moderation. Ouzo (an aniseed flavored spirit) and beer are also popular alcoholic beverages. Strong black coffee is one of the most popular non-alcoholic beverages.

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PIYAZ RECIPE

pi

In Antalya, a beautiful city with magnificent beaches and historical places on the Mediterranean coast, piyaz is made differently than the rest of Turkey. The difference is tahini and garlic, which enriches the taste incredibly.

Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked northern beans
1 onion, cut finely in half-moons
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp crushed pepper
1 or two hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced

-Soak the beans over night. Bring them to a boil and then on medium heat cook them until soft. Or use canned beans.
-In a bowl mix tahini, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic for the sauce/dressing. It shouldn’t be too runny or thick. Since different tahini brands have different density, it’s hard to find the perfect mixture. If the dressing you make with the measures above is thick, add some of the water that you used to cook the beans or use the juice in the can. If it’s runny than you can thicken it with more tahini.
-Pour the tahini dressing over the beans and mix them well.
-Slice the onion thinly julienne style in half moon shape. In a bowl knead it with 1 tsp salt. Rinse.
-Mix the beans with onion and parsley.
-Decorate the bean salad with tomatoes and slices of hard-boiled eggs.

IZMIR MEATBALLS

izmir kofteINGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound/ 500 grams lean ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1 egg
  • 4 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
  • ¼ chopped Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 4-5 Hungarian peppers, 1 green Bell pepper
  •  2 tomatoes
  • 1 red Bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes, grated
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • oil for frying

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

PREPARATION

  1. Begin by preparing the meatballs. Put the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Grate the onion and drain the extra juice. Add it to the meat.
  2. Wet the stale bread with warm water. Squeeze out the water and add it to the meat. Add the spices, chopped parsley and egg.
  3. Knead the mixture together for several minutes until it’s well combined. Set it aside to let it rest for a few minutes. Break off walnut-sized pieces of the meat mixture and make oblong meatballs by rolling them between the palms of your hands.
  4. Put about 1 inch of oil in a large skillet and heat on high. Fry the meatballs until they are nicely browned on all sides. Drain them on paper towels.
  5. Peel the potatoes and cut them in wedges. Fry them in the same oil as the meatballs until they soften and turn a light golden brown. Drain them on paper towels.
  6. In a large oven-proof casserole tray, arrange the cooked meatballs to cover the entire bottom of the tray. Next, arrange the cooked potatoes evenly over the meatballs.
  7. Cut two tomatoes into wedges. Clean the green and red pepper and cut them into large strips. Arrange the vegetables along with the potatoes.
  8. For the sauce, grate two more tomatoes. Mix them with the tomato paste and hot water. Add the salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the casserole.
  9. Bake it in a 390° F/ 200° C oven for about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes and peppers are softened and slightly browned.
  10. Serve your meatball casserole with crusty bread to dip in the juice.

GREEN LENTIL SOUP

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Smooth, blended green lentil soup!


RECIPE:

Ingredients:

As least 1 cup of green lentils

merci pieces1 large onion, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 carrots, sliced round

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 cup tomatoes, diced

3-4 cups hot water + bouillon (of chicken or meat stock)

1 tbsp salt to taste

¼ tsp black pepper

Preparation:

Soak green (French) lentils in water for 4-5 hours. Then drain.

In a pot, take olive oil and onions. Saute over medium heat and stir in carrots and garlic. Saute for 8-10 minutes. And then, stir in green lentils and cook for a while. Add hot water + bouillon (meat stock), tomatoes and salt.

Simmer over low-medium heat with the lid closed, till the lentils soften (for about 30-40 minutes). Turn the heat off and add black pepper and summer savory to taste.  

Often, now in Turkey a hand blender is used to get a smoother texture, or you may choose not to blend.

Serve Green Lentil Soup hot with some fresh crusty bread.  Drizzle some olive oil or melted butter over the top for an added heartiness.  Often in Turkey we eat it with lemon juice squeezed in as well.

While seemingly one of the simplest of soups, this lentil soup is both satisfying and tasty.

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Here’s the unblended version.

CAPPADOCIAN WINE MAKERS: KOCABAG WINERY 

Kocabag Cappadocian Wines is a family owned wine producer and viticulture company located in Uchisar district of Cappadocia, Turkey. The firm has an annual capacity of 300 thousand liters. They put their first bottle of wine on the market in 1986. In todays wine sector, Kocabag is within the first top 5 wineries in Turkey, whose products are the most desired.

kocabag emirThis months Wine of choice: Kocabag Emir

Made entirely from the white Emir grape, the only Turkish grape exclusive to Cappadocia. Steely, light and very clean, with no oak. Best drunk with chicken shish, borek (a turkish pastry), fried squid and falafel.  This is an easy to drink wine that reflects the unique character of the Cappadocian landscape.

If you would like to taste this wine straight from the Winery: Get Tour Plan & Pricing Now!

Street Foods, Local Markets and Bazaars Are Worth Sampling in Istanbul

In Turkey, as in many other Mediterranean countries, there is a strong tradition of fresh, local, simple foods and those foods are prepared and consumed “on the street” as well as in the home.  In Istanbul, a fascinating, ancient, yet cosmopolitan city of 13 million people, the tradition of “fast food,” both hot and cold, is strong and anyone who participates in any of the popular Turkey tours should not hesitate to sample some traditional treats available from street vendors.

First, kebap and doner, which you may have heard of.  Both meat selections, kebap is hunks or chunks of broiled or roasted cow, sheep or chicken (or sometimes other meats) while doner is sliced from a cut roasting on a spit.  There are many varieties sold in many forms.  Be sure to try at least once.

Then there is the bread:  Pide is a thin leavened bread, akin to pita or pizza dough, which can be eaten plain, or topped with meat and/or vegetables, filled and shaped into a roll topped with salad and lemon juice, or stuffed with cheese.  Flaky-textured borek is often stuffed with cheese and eaten for breakfast, but there are numerous other fillings also.

Pogaca is a flaky pastry filled with spinach, cheese or olives; simit and acma are roughly equivalent to bagels (with sesame) and doughnuts, and also come in many varieties, sold by street vendors and also in shops.

In the summer, roasted corn is sold on the street and is scrumptious;  In the fall and winter a cone of roasted chestnuts is as satisfying in Istanbul as it is in Paris.

While in Istanbul on one of the individually-tailored Turkey travel packages such as this one, you simply must make time to visit at least one of the many area markets which display and sell fresh produce.  The scents of fresh parsley and mint are wonderful, the colors like a painting, and the variety impressive.  Also, the Arasta Bazaar, in the Sultanahmet area, makes for an interesting excursion, particularly for spices.

An Introduction To Ottoman Cuisine for your Turkey Tour

Any cuisine that boasts multiple world influences tends to incorporate the best flavors from each contributing region. Ottoman cuisine is a perfect example of foods which have been born out of a large number of different countries’ eating traditions. Arabian, Iranian, Greek and Asian cultures are just a few of the culinary influences that can be found in many Ottoman dishes today. As you consider Turkey travel packages for your Turkey tour, make sure you choose one that will focus on the many delights of this eclectic cuisine. Let’s explore some of the best dishes Turkey has to offer:

Mezzes (appetizers or “small plates”): Sampling many different tastes in one dining experience is a real treat, and Turkish appetizers, or mezzes, are popular to begin a meal or even to eat as a main meal. A typical mezze is white beans in tahini and olive oil, also called piyaz. Variations of this dish can be found across many cuisines. Another great mezze is lorlu biber mezesi, or red peppers stuffed with cheese. Cured fish in olive oil, yogurt-cucumber salad and hummus are wonderful hot weather mezzes.

Main Dishes: Ottoman entrees are heavy on beef and lamb. Kofte, or meatballs, are often a combination of both meats and can be served in small balls or larger patties topped with mashed potatoes. This dish is called Hasanpasa Kofte. Vegetarian dishes represent some Indian influences and use a lot of cauliflower, okra, and cabbage. Rice entrees are delicately spiced and contain fruits and nuts such as apricots, almonds, raisins, pistachios and chestnuts.

Desserts: Dessert is less elaborate in Ottoman cuisine than it tends to be in the United States, and you probably won’t find any huge portions of double chocolate molten lava cake topped with a mountain of ice cream in a Turkish restaurant. What you will find, though, is small, milk and seed-based candies like royal halva, which is a combination of nuts, flour and sugar. Fruits and nuts are also common in puddings. Overall, the dessert portions are much smaller in Turkey than in the United States, which is a good thing!

This brief overview is only an introduction to the many delights of Turkish cuisine. Turkey travel holds a vast treasure trove of fun, including the opportunity to sample many different tastes. If you’re looking into Turkey tours, don’t overlook trying all the foods the Ottoman Empire made famous.