Moroccan El Minzah Orange Salad Inspired by the Novel 'Tangerine'

Moroccan El Minzah Orange Salad Inspired by the Novel 'Tangerine'

Wednesday, 4 March, 2020

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.

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Set in the twisty alleys of a medina in Tangier, Morocco, this novel is like a Hitchcock film translated to the page. With taut, evocative prose, it tells the unsettling story of two elusive heroines trapped in a complex relationship of love, jealousy, and betrayal.

Our two protagonists — the always-audacious Lucy and the painfully diffident Alice — are former best friends who met at Bennington College. They’ve had a mysterious falling out, and that conflict drives everything that befalls them.

Alice has moved to Tangier with her new husband, and she’s not adjusted well to her new life. As she struggles with anxiety, Lucy (Alice’s old frenemy), shows up unexpectedly. As the women fall into old patterns, a new mystery surfaces and the knots of tension twist tighter and tighter.

Tangier is perched on the northwestern tip of Morocco, and it’s a fitting setting for this kind of story. After WWI, the city was declared an International Zone and was jointly ruled by nine different countries. It developed a glamorous and dangerous reputation that continued through the second World War. Tangier was a haven for smugglers, movie stars, washed-up secret agents, and ne’er-do-wells hoping to fly under the radar.

The glamorous Hotel El Minzah was the place to see and be seen. This Hispano-Moorish palace was built in 1930 by the British aristocrat John Crichton-Stuart, the fourth Marquis of Bute, and it was a place for the upper crust to mix and mingle in this sun-bleached city by the sea.

Like the motley cast of characters who sipped cocktails on the patio of the hotel, this refreshing salad brings together strong players — sweet oranges, cool fennel and mint, salty olives — to make something that’s bold and exotic.

orange slices and black olives arranged on a plate
Photo courtesy of Catherine Murray/Shutterstock.com

Moroccan ‘El Minzah’ Orange Salad

Serves 6-8. Prep 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds large seedless oranges, about 4-5
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1/4 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup large black olives, pitted and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • garnish: fennel fronds, minced

Directions:

Prep the oranges. Use a sharp knife to cut the oranges into thin slices.

Mix the salad. Remove the fronds from the fennel and reserve a few for garnish. Cut the ends off the fennel bulb, and slice it very thinly, crosswise. Add the fennel, onion, olives, and mint to the oranges. Gently combine with a rubber scraper.

Make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, paprika, cayenne, coriander, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the oil in a slow drizzle, whisking continuously. Pour the dressing over the oranges and toss gently to blend.

To serve, allow the flavors to meld for about an hour. Taste, adjust seasonings, and sprinkle the salad with the reserved fennel fronds.

This recipe is from our cookbook Well Fed, and it’s packed with other easy-to-make and crazy-delicious recipes from around the world.

It is in these moments — when the air is thick and hot, threatening — that I can close my eyes and inhale, when I can smell Tangier again. It is the smell of a kiln, of something warm, but not burning, almost like marshmallows, but not as sweet. There is a touch of spice, something vaguely familiar, like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom even, and then something else entirely unfamiliar. — Christine Mangan

Tangerine

by Christine Mangan

Like a Hitchcock film translated to the page with taut, evocative prose, this is the story of two elusive heroines trapped in a complex relationship of love, jealousy, and betrayal. Set in the twisty alleys of a medina in Tangier, the always-audacious Lucy and the painfully diffident Alice are former best friends. They’ve had a mysterious falling out, and that conflict drives everything that befalls them in this stylish, entertaining thriller. {more}

This noir thriller (336 pages) was published in March of 2018 by HarperCollins. The book takes you to Tangier, Morocco. Melissa read Tangerine and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

Tangerine: A Novel

 

Top image courtesy of Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock.

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