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In my new persona as a business entrepreneur (please pronounce that with the proper awe), I’ve got a HAWT idea to share with you.
It came to me while I was listening to “The Splendid Table” on NPR last night. Host Lynne Kasper was interviewing food author Deborah Krasner on the idea of culinary vacations, where you go to a country and take classes and cook with local chefs (this was big with her). She said, “Doing this provides you a real entree into the culture,” with no sense of irony that I could detect, although I was cracking up. Entrée? Cooking? Get it? Ha.
They should hire me to do these shows.
Anyway, I immediately had a brilliant idea about how to modify this to the Mauritanian market. Food tourism meets a nomadic culture. Gain an entrée into this romantic desert culture; see the symbiotic relationship between oasis and table floor; follow the process of an organic free-range goat from street to pot to delicious meal; see how these people honour the animal by using ALL of it, instead of wasting parts of it.
How’s this for a basic itinerary?
Day One:
Tour the local markets and hone your bargaining skills; learn the derogatory words for “tourist” and “white foreigner.” Learn how to deal graciously with getting what you think is a good price, only to have your Mauritanian guide collapse in laughter, tears streaming down his face, as you learn you have set a new record for getting cheated.
In the evening, feed your new purchase some fruit. Warm to the way it eats from your hand, nuzzles it even.
Day Two:
Learn the basics of slaughter the Islamic way. Learn how to eat sitting on the floor and using only your right hand. Learn that rancid goat butter actually adds a pungent flavour to the couscous.
Day Three:
Tea ceremony time! Today you get to try making it, and see how steadily you can manage to pour the tea back and forth, back and forth, in the little glasses, until you get some real foam.
Deborah Krasner was going on and on about passionate local chefs. We’ve got them, too. In fact, our special treat, the thing that really sets us apart from all those poncy culinary vacations in Italy and Japan and France, is this: actual nomads who will milk a camel for you! Yes, in order to truly experience desert hospitality you must drink fresh, warm camel’s milk from a large wooden bowl. The experience will not be authentic if there are not a few camel’s hairs floating in it.
I haven’t worked out all the details yet (Debbie, email me, K?) but I am pretty sure this is going to be immensely popular with the Organic crowd. You can’t get much more back-to-nature than life lived in the desert, on the land as it were.
Go ahead and send me your money right now to reserve your spot. I’ll let you know dates and costs when I have it all figured out.

February 2008

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