You have heard her on radio and seen her at expos. This year, Cape Town’s Giggling Gourmet will be seen in 86 countries. Jenny Morris is in Morocco shooting her new series, Jenny Cooks Morocco, for the Food Network. She is the first celebrity chef in South Africa to host a series that on the Food Network.
“I am still black and blue from pinching myself,” she said while on a five-week shoot in Morocco.
Regarding her new international audience, she says: “I want to appeal to their curiosity and share my discoveries with them. I think people are mostly the same, they love to travel from their armchairs. We (all) are interested in what other cultures eat and do.”
She does admit that having an international audience does scare her and she is still trying to find out how to deal with this fear. She has never travelled overseas for TV before. She says the show is different to her previous TV appearances as it is a stand-alone production hosted by her.
“The trip to Morocco follows in the wake of Food Network’s decision to commission yours truly for a new series to be launched later this year. This is a great honour and a wonderful opportunity to be the first celebrity chef in South Africa to host a series on Food Network.
“Following the conclusion of all contractual arrangements much time was spent in a fun and collaborative effort between myself and Food Network to agree and finalise details for the upcoming series.”
Morris also escorts people on food tours, and says Morocco is one of her favourite destinations.
“I love the people and the food. Some of them are sophisticated and the other half are rural and humble and still make their couscous from scratch.”
On her trip so far, Morris says she has experienced “amazing” connections with people, from a man who tends hammam (traditional Moroccan bathhouse) fires to immigrants to the country.
Morris believes there is much to learn from Moroccan food.
“We could learn to appreciate food again. Moroccans are seasonal eaters and look forward to the harvest with great anticipation. There are no air miles on their food; everything they eat is fresh and at its best in season and tastes phenomenal.”
But there are things that we have misunderstood about their cuisine, she says.
“Moroccan food is simple and really tasty. It is earthy and honest; people think that Moroccans eat couscous with every meal but they don’t. Couscous takes hours to prepare and they don’t have time on a daily basis to make it. They don’t like instant couscous and when you taste the real deal you will understand why. They eat bread with most meals.”
The show’s itinerary will have her travelling from the sea to the Atlas Mountains and the desert.
“I am going to ride a camel, and meet and interview some of the most amazing characters that came to Morocco and never left.”
Morris has her eyes set on South America next. “As long as I can breathe there is a whole world out there I need to taste.”
Morris’s new book is also in stores. “Cooking with Jenny Morris is my third book and is filled with stories of my food memories (of) people who have inspired me to cook from when I was really young. It is like a little black dress, everyone should have one.”
Launched in mid-November, it has over 200 recipes including for breads, cakes, muffins, sauces, jams, icy drinks, chicken, duck, beef and lamb, fish and, says Morris, a chapter on “Prawnography”.
The recipes were inspired by people who have been willing to share their recipes such as her late friend Ruby Naidu, whom Morris calls her Durban mother, her grandfather, her mother and a neighbour.
“I cannot believe the response I have been having to it.
“People e-mail me pictures of the dishes they have cooked and take the trouble to write to me and I am really happy and grateful for the support.”
Jenny Cooks Morocco is expected to air in the first quarter of this year. The series will have 10 episodes. - Weekend Argus
l For updates from Morris’s adventures in Morocco, follow her on twitter – @jennymorrischef.