"The Moro cookbook is a distillation of our favourite recipes, a wonderful playground of tastes conjuring up images of hairy-chested matadors and of hedonistic sultans. We hope, like us, you will be excited by these flavours and enticed by the romance and tradition inherent in each dish. We also want to impart something of the 'language of spice,' how a teaspoon of ginger or five all-spice berries can speak of different continents."
So write husband and wife chefs Sam and Sam Clark, the owners of London's Moro restaurant, in the introduction to their cookbook. I just received it as a gift from my Bri'ish friends M. and S. who know of my love of eating and who share at least my gluttony, if not my cooking enthusiasm. A quick flip through seduces me - the rough paper throws images of saffron rice with raisins, pistachios and caramelised crispy onions in my face, the photo full of close-up grains of rice yellowed with precious saffron threads. Characters from the Arabic alphabet dance across the page in sworls and long elegant slashes if the recipe owes its origins to the Muslim world, and Spanish translations grace those recipes taken from that corner of Europe. All the recipes were created after Sam and Sam drove a camper-van through Spain and Morocco to the Sahara (how romantic!) They explain in the book that the word Moro is taken from the Spanish word for Moor, el Moro, since the Moors' 700-year occupation of Spain is the tie between cultures and foodways that the Clarks call "the saffron-cinnamon link."
I promise an exotic treat from this new cookbook one day soon...M. and S., thank you!