Spice of Life

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Harry Belafonte (Melissa Eagan)

Harry Belafonte talks about how he got his start in music, his role in the civil rights movement, and his continued commitment to social activism. Paula Wolfert tells us about Moroccan food, from tasty tagines to lamb with couscous and dates. Pulitzer Prize-winner Jeffrey Eugenides discusses his much anticipated new novel, The Marriage Plot. Plus, John Lithgow describes how his father influenced his life and career.

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte talks about his life—as an actor musician, and passionate activist. In his memoir, My Song, he writes of his close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr.; his role as a conduit between Dr. King and the Kennedys; and his friendships with Paul Robeson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Tony Bennett, Bill Clinton, and turns an admiring and critical eye on our country’s cultural past.

The documentary “Sing Your Song,” about the life of Harry Belafonte, premieres October 17 on HBO.

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The Food of Morocco

Paula Wolfert talks about her new cookbook, The Food of Morocco—from tender Berber skillet bread to spiced harira, from chicken with preserved lemon and olives to steamed breast of lamb stuffed with couscous and dates. She explains the essential elements of Moroccan flavor and tells where to get hard-to-find ingredients.

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Jeffrey Eugenides on The Marriage Plot

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jeffrey Eugenides discusses his latest, The Marriage Plot, a tale of modern love. It follows Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell, who meet at Brown University, where Madeleine immerses herself in works by Jane Austen and George Eliot, examining the marriage plot at the heart of the great English novels. The story follows the three college graduates as they embark on the world, searching for where they belong—and who they belong with.


John Lithgow

John Lithgow shares a backstage view of his own struggle and discovery, telling about his road to becoming a star. His memoir, Drama: An Actor’s Education, is a tribute to his most important influence: his father, an actor, director, producer, and great lover of Shakespeare, who brought theater to John’s life. He also looks at his collaborations with performers and directors, including Mike Nichols, Bob Fosse, Liv Ullmann, and Meryl Streep.

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Guest Picks: Jeffrey Eugenides

Novelist Jeffrey Eugenides spoke about his new novel, The Marriage Plot. Find out what he's been reading and listening to lately.


Guest Picks: John Lithgow

John Lithgow spoke to Leonard about his father's influence on his career as an actor recently, and he also shared his favorite comfort food is.


Guest Picks: Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte spoke to Leonard about his music career and his commitment to social activism, and he also shared what he's been reading and his love of cooking.


Trout with Preserved Lemons, Raisins, and Pine Nuts in Broth

At a restaurant in the Middle Atlas town of Ifrane, known as the “Little Switzerland” of Morocco, I finally tasted the famous regional lake trout. The fish, I learned, was served in numerous ways: fried, in tagines, and, as in this recipe, gently poached in a lovely light broth. The dish reminded me of a mountain lake trout preparation I learned from the famous French chef Michel Bras. I’ve based the recipe below on his technique, but the dish is totally Moroccan in character.

(Serves 2 to 4)

8 ounces lake trout or Arctic char fillets

Coarse salt and freshly ground

white pepper


3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

2 large spring onions or 1 bunch scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and sliced about 1/8 inch thick on a slight diagonal

1 medium carrot, scraped and sliced about 1/8 inch thick on a slight diagonal

1 teaspoon honey, such as orange blossom, jujube, eucalyptus, or thyme

1 preserved lemon, pulp removed, rind rinsed and cut into ¼-inch dice

1 tablespoon golden raisins, soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Cut the fillets into small pieces. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Put on a plate, scatter a small amount of the cilantro on top, cover with plastic, and refrigerate.

2. Simmer the spring onions or scallions and carrots in 3 cups water in a 10-inch deep skillet until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Add the honey, preserved lemon, raisins, pine nuts, and a little salt and pepper to the vegetables and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. (The soup can be made in advance up to this point; bring to a simmer before proceeding. Add more water if necessary to keep the mixture submerged by about 1 inch.)

4. Slip in the pieces of fish and cook gently until the fish is silky smooth and tender, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil, scatter with the remaining cilantro, and serve.

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