Moorish Fusion Cuisine: Conquering the New World
When we hear the term Moor, most people think of Shakespeare’s tragic
hero Othello. But that deeply complicated literary character actually comes
from a culture much older than Shakespearean England, a culture that
survives today through an array of ingredients we use in everyday cooking.
In his new book “Moorish Fusion Cuisine: Conquering the New World”
(Emerald Book Company; October 2011; $38.00/hardcover; ISBN: 978-
1-934572-98-6), acclaimed chef Zouhair Zairi (Chef ZZ) combines the
traditional recipes and flavors of his Moorish family with a refreshingly
new sense of food as a creative venture.
The Moors represent a people of Arab and Berber heritage who settled in
Northern Africa, mainly Morocco. The rich Moorish cuisine has inspired the
world through the innovative use of spices and ingredients indigenous to
North Africa, including olives, almonds, saffron, grapes, pomegranates and
artichokes. Their cuisine incorporated cinnamon, chilies and other spices
traded from as far as China and from other areas that had been visited or
conquered by Arabian forces. Their diet could be described as Mediterranean,
containing an abundance of ingredients from their region: fish, shellfish,
citrus fruits, aromatic essences and flowers.
Relying heavily upon memories of his mother’s and grandmother’s fare in
his youth, Chef ZZ’s groundbreaking cookbook, “Moorish Fusion Cuisine,”
introduces a unique approach to a mouthwatering ancient gastronomy and
represents a personal homage to the Moorish cuisine of his homeland.
“My approach is to showcase the ingredients and keep it simple. I have a
knack of combining herbs and spices, and transforming them into complex,
aromatic blends that I sprinkle onto meat, poultry, and fish. I enjoy using
traditional ingredients, like rose petals, orange blossom water, and precious
argan oil, in new ways. I add rose water to my vinaigrettes, which adds a
beautiful fragrance and is soothing to the palate.”
The culinary delights that await the home cook in “Moorish Fusion Cuisine”
include: Traditional Andalusia Gazpacho; Tomato, Fennel, and Saffron Soup