Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cook me a purple Halloween dinner

Today Wednesday is market day in my village. How about cooking a red-purple Halloween dinner?

First I will pick a garland of these dried red peppers….

Or may be a quarter pound of those….


Then I will choose a big round red cabbage….


And some eggplants as well


And for dessert, I want these prickly pears...



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

El Huerto de Juan Ranas

I now have a favourite place to go and have coffee in Granada when the weather is mild and sunny. El Huerto de Juan Ranas is a very nice place situated in the Albayzin, the oldest part of the city, facing the Alhambra.
One of these cute little red buses in Plaza Nueva will take you right there.
I just had to enter this place. The view is too stunning, don’t you think ?


The terrace is very pleasant. You can sit on chairs or sofas, have a drink or eat some food. The staff is nice and smiling.


When you're contemplating such beautiful views, you forget about the turmoil of the world...


And you wish you would live next door…



Monday, October 29, 2007

Let's feed the world...playing?

I happened to find this game on internet called FreeRice. This game enables you to test your level in English and for each correct word, 10 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations to help end world hunger. It is sponsored by various companies and trades like American Express, Liz Clairborne, ITunes, Fujitsu and many others.
I was quite happy to play and found the idea attractive. There are 50 levels of English and according to the founders of the game it’s very rare to reach level 48, so I felt very proud to get to level 40. (Ok, I’m a translator so I suppose it helps). I then looked up the daily results. Yesterday Sunday, 42 153 555 grains of rice have been donated which according to a friend (who confirmed that 1 kg of rice is approx. 50 000 grains) should be 843 kg of rice.

I then read the FAQ section of the site (frequently asked questions) to find an answer to my own questions and got it: (I quote)

“Question: If you have the rice to give, why not give it all away right now?

Answer: We are not sitting on a pile of rice. You are earning it 10 grains at a time. Here how it works. When you play the game, advertisements appear on the bottom of your screen: The money generated by these advertisements is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people.”

It is certainly a fine idea. Most people sitting at their desk will find it enjoyable to play and donate rice during coffee break. At the end of the day, they would feel happy and satisfied for having contributed a little bit towards hunger in the world.

Still, I wish the founders of the game would also tell us that the direct cause of hunger is poverty, lack of sanitation, lack of access to water and that every aspect has to be considered.
The Food and Agricultural Organization reports that 70% of people suffering from hunger live in a rural environment. Why it is such a challenge for countries like Brazil for instance to feed its own people in spite of President Lula’s efforts to implement his “zero hunger” program? Again (see my earlier post on the World Bank), I would like to say that as long as indebted countries will be under the obligation to produce to pay back their debts instead of feeding their own people, then hunger is likely to last.


“You must be the change you want to see in this world” Gandhi said. I have this sentence written down in my notebook on my desk. Please share it with me….and do have a try at the game!


(photo: Ablutions by Bill Viola whose video work was exhibited in Granada last june)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

10 reasons why I like to live in my village

Recently a friend of mine asked me: “do you really like to live in this village? I mean, don’t you ever get bored?”
I think I told you earlier I live in a village which is 27 km south far from Granada and 30 km far from the Mediterranean coast. Its name is Durcal. Compared to the other villages of the valley here, called the Lecrin valley or also the valley of joy because of its many orchards (orange, lemon, almond and olive trees), it’s a not a pretty village. Most of its houses are modern. Its architecture is rather dull and boring and lacks the charm of the surrounding traditional little villages. Actually, it’s mainly a workers village but ....I like it because:

1) People say hello in the street with a smile. I don't care if they say things in my back. I experience that smiling many times a time is very good for one's morale. Parisians should definitely put it into practice.
2) When I go away and when I come back, people ask me right away: "But where were you? It’s a long time we haven't seen you...it’s nice to see you again". When I say people, I mean the girl working at the little supermarket, the guy who delivers the gas bottles, anyone…Of course, you might think : gee they're really inquisitive...but in the end, it's kind of nice to feel you have been missed.
3) There is a market every Wednesday where you can buy biological fruit and veggies.
4) People are relaxed and informal. If I don’t have enough cash with me to pay at the pharmacy, the bar, the newspaper shop, the hairdresser, it's absolutely ok to come back and pay the day after or following week. The trick is not to get used to it.
5) When it’s 1h30pm, nearly all the shops close except some at 2. Everybody goes home for lunch and I love, I just love the smell of grilled red peppers which very often floats in the air near my house.
6) My village is quite small but provides the services of a little town: shops, post office, cyber café, banks, pizza delivering, (sigh ,no Chinese takeaway yet or couscous or sushi) laundry cleaning, car cleaning, hair dresser, bars, bars and bars…and more bars.
7) There is an old cinema which always makes me think of Fellini's movie Amarcord. Tickets cost 3 €. Isn’t that cheap?
8) Sometimes on Sunday mornings or bank holidays, from my balcony, I can hear a horse trotting down the street. It's very pleasant. I’ve got the feeling to live in the past for a few seconds.
9) I’ve got a very special friend called Toby…He’s a gorgeous white Persian cat owned by the couple running the pet shop. Sometimes I just enter the shop to play with him.
10) I've got another very very special friend.....yes, I actually met Monchéri in my village but.. hem...this is another story!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Marrakech IV - going to Essaouira

This is the city where everything is blue and white…Essaouira is 170 kms far from Marrakech, by the Atlantic ocean. This is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and breathe some fresh air....

Everything is a harmony of blue and white..From the taxi signs…


To the tiled floor of this outdoor restaurant on the port, where you can choose your own fish and have it grilled in no time…


Please take a seat on these white benches covered with blue striped vinyl fabric. Monchéri and I (well, of course I’m not on the picture since I’m taking it) couldn’t wait to stuff ourselves….


With this wonderful meal of fresh fish…



Sunday, October 14, 2007

Marrakech III

How about some food ? I don’t know why but we felt hungry all the time and luckily Marrakech is a place where you find food everywhere, anytime... except during Ramadan of course.
How about some doughnuts in the medina ?
A nice veggie or lamb tajine cooked on black coal ?

I love oriental pastries but then we just couldn't resist the exquisite French pastries of “pâtisserie Adamo" in the Gueliz district. Next door, you’ll find the Café du Livre, which is a very pleasant library/café where you can seat and read while having a delicious refreshing homemade cucumber juice or a light meal. The café also has wifi connection.

How about a light snack for lunch ? Go to Kechmara...Hem…there as well I couldn’t resist having a real French sandwich with “baguette” and “saucisson” !
The owner of the place, Jojo is a cool guy. He opened this place recently. I found out we both lived in Paris, in the same district of the Marais during the same period...I like the modern look of the place and especially the terrace with these circular windows.


We found the Tanjia restaurant by chance, when walking to the Mellah – I love the terrace, its latticed ornamentations, the beautiful food and the quietness…



Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Marrakech II

It’s 40ºC degrees outside. After wandering through the Mellah – the Jewish quarter, where you can buy sumptuous fabrics and smell all kind of spices….



we felt like breathing a little bit of fresh air…Follow me to the beautiful Majorelle garden. I wish I would live here….



This place is heaven : you are surrounded by palm trees, bamboos, cacti and so many other exotic plants. Water lilies and lotus grow in the pools.


Once you're here, you don’t want to leave…

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