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Book review: A Month in Marrakech by Andy Harris

Book review: A Month in Marrakech by Andy Harris
A Month in Marrakech
Andy Harris
Hardie Grant
RRP £20
Morocco is such a colourful culinary destination it almost sells itself- and Harris has approached the country with an outsider's perspective, rendering it perhaps more accessible to Western readers than some of the titles by native authors. For all that, the recipes are no more 'diluted', calling for rich spice mixtures and abundant store-cupboards.
'A Month In Marrakesh' is divided into slightly erratic chapters- opening with 'Breakfasts', one expects the rest of the book to cover the remainder of the day's meals. Not so. We're taken through 'Street Food' to 'Condiments', with a wander to 'Tagines' and a brief diversion via 'Roasts'. It's almost like a wander through a haphazard souk and actually, the peculiarity rather suits the subject matter.
Harris has a convivial tone, and a friendly way about his prose that makes one wish there were a little more space devoted to his culinary and physical meanderings. There's more to be said about many of the dishes featured- what's the tale, for instance, behind 'Seffa' or 'Snake Cake'? It also seems a shame to largely give recipe titles in English, without their corresponding Moroccan names, when language can often be as mouthwatering as food itself.
The book closes with a 'Glossary'- although here it's more a showcase for in-depth descriptions of some of the fundamentals of Moroccan cuisine. A particularly nice flourish is the section on 'Spices, Grains and Ingredients', with each featured item photographed in a ramekin. This is the level of information one craves throughout the rest of the book and, as such, is most welcome.
'A Month In Marrakesh' is an ideal introduction to the food and culture of Morocco. Although perhaps not the most comprehensive guide to the country, it nonetheless tackles its subject matter with warmth, humour and a big dose of style. Just like a trip to the souk, it's a real pick-and-mix- and there's plenty of gems to be sought out within its pages.
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7 May 2011
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