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An Oscar-worthy dinner

Chicken tagine stars in Moroccan-themed evening, with lemons, olives, zucchini and dates in supporting roles.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2008

 

  "Casablanca," Best Picture in 1943, is the inspiration for an Oscar night Moroccan-themed dinner. Le Creuset's kiwi-colored enameled cast iron and glazed earthenware tagine, pictured behind the Oscar lookalike statuette, is the ideal cooking vessel for replicating rich and flavorful North African dishes. The 80th Academy Awards will be televised Sunday. Sue Ade/Bluffton Today

"Casablanca," Best Picture in 1943, is the inspiration for an Oscar night Moroccan-themed dinner. Le Creuset's kiwi-colored enameled cast iron and glazed earthenware tagine, pictured behind the Oscar lookalike statuette, is the ideal cooking vessel for replicating rich and flavorful North African dishes. The 80th Academy Awards will be televised Sunday.

Sue Ade/Bluffton Today

The 80th Academy Awards ceremony will be held Sunday, with "Atonement," "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" competing for Best Picture.

Sixty-five years ago, in 1943, "Casablanca" took the gold for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. With its intricate plot revolving around love, war, the underground and the city of Casablanca, that film continues to be ranked among the greatest cinematic achievements of all time.

The spicy romance between movie characters Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), however, pales in comparison to the piquancy of the centuries-old cuisine native to the North African country of Morocco.

Chicken is widely eaten there, as are beef, lamb and fish, grilled or stewed in an earthenware tagine with pungent spices, fresh herbs and preserved lemons and olives, which are considered to be essential in Moroccan cooking.

Dates stuffed with a sweet nut paste is a popular Moroccan dessert and the beverage of choice is lump-sugar sweetened green tea with fresh mint leaves.

As you "round up the usual suspects" for your Oscar night party, keep this thought in mind. The movie "Casablanca" was entirely filmed at the Warners studio lot, except for the airport scene, which was shot at the Los Angeles Municipal Airport. Those locations are no more foreign than what can be created with a Moroccan meal in our own homes.

If you miss the Oscars and still want to host a "Casablanca"-inspired dinner, you can always rent the movie, crank up the DVD player and ask Sam to play it again.



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