It always amazes me how magical some films are. Have you ever felt like going somewhere, or doing something after watching a particular film? Films can be inspiring. I can only think of it as magic. How otherwise can you explain that I watched so many movies filmed in Morocco but none of them made me want to go there. Not even The Sheltering Sky. Beautifully shot, but frankly my dear, quite pretentious and boring. I love Debra Winger and I watched it for her, Malkovich on the other hand…(put meaningful silence and shoulder shrug here..)
The only film which made me yearn for going to Morocco was Casablanca. How absurd, a film made entirely in the studio holds such an atmospheric power. I love the fact that no one involved in the production expected it to be anything but a romantic film. I also love that the producers used a set built for another film, The Desert Song, to film the Paris flashbacks. Or the fact that they used a cardboard plane for the last scene, and to make it look bigger, hired little people extras to walk around it and make the perspective more believable. Fog was used to mask the appearance of the fake plane, but it made the scene even more eerie and atmospheric.
I was a bit obsessed with Humphrey Bogart when I was 13. I watched all of his films and to me he was an absolute icon and a perfect male model. I wonder what a shrink would have to say about a 13 year old girl idolizing a short, middle aged, mumbling guy with a drinking problem… Even now I still think he was an amazing actor and Casablanca remains one of my favourite films I can watch over and over again. All famous one liners from the film have been used so many times that they became part of the popular culture, and I bet some people don’t even know where they came from any more.
There can’t be any other dish you can pair with a film like that then tagine. You should make it, otherwise you will regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day…
So here it is, let’s play it Sam, for old times’ sake…
(adapted from New Vegetarian Kitchen by Nicola Graimes)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, sliced
1 aubergine, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 courgettes, sliced
2 tbsp ras-el-hanout
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1-2 sweet potatoes, diced
600 chopped potatoes
1 tbsp honey
100g dried apricots
1 tin cheakpeas
handful of blanched, toasted almonds
salt and pepper
coriander leaves, chopped
cooked couscous to serve
1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy (iron cast) pan. Add onion and saute over a medium heat. Add aubergine, garlic and courgettes. Cook till the vegetables have softened.
2.Add ras-el-hanout and stir until vegetables are coated. Add chilli flakes, sweet potato, chopped tomatoes, honey and half a cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat.
3. Simmer covered for 15 min, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in chickpeas and apricots, cover and cook for another 15 min. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with almonds and coriander, serve with couscous.