How about some Moroccan food to celebrate a classic Humphrey Bogart film?
Seventy years ago this month, the movie “Casablanca,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, opened in theaters around the country.
Made during World War II, the action was set in an American-style nightclub in Morocco, where people of all nationalities frantically looked for exit visas to the freedom of America.
One of Bogart’s lines in the movie set the time as December 1941, just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Last week, I sat in a sold-out mall theater to see a restored full-screen version of the movie. When the film premiered in theaters, then called “movie houses,” luxurious curtains ceremoniously parted to reveal a much smaller screen than today’s version.
Movie-goers snacked on popcorn and cola; not a nacho or hot dog in sight. That popcorn aroma deliciously permeated the lobby, daring patrons to take their comfortable leather seats without a box.
I could hear snippets of these reminiscences in the conversations of the octogenarians who’d bought tickets to recapture a moment in time. Some arrived in large groups with others their age, claiming seats in clumps at the end of rows.
Others, multigenerational families — teens, parents and grandparents — filled whole rows across, the older folks whispering bits of recollected history to the kids.
At certain points during the film, whole rows broke out in loud song; the elders knew all the words to “As Time Goes By” and “Knock on Wood.” Curiously, the teens seemed not in the least embarrassed by their grandparents’ vocals.
Classic lines — “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she had to walk into mine,” and “Here’s looking at you, kid,” — elicited sighs. And the corniest — “Was that canon fire or the pounding of my heart?” — brought barely an undercurrent of giggles. “I’m shocked, shocked, to find that there is gambling in this bar,” got loud applause.
In the end, the loudest, standing-up applause wasn’t for music or dialog, but for the final curtain, although there wasn’t a curtain to be drawn.
MOROCCAN-SPICED CHICKEN & APRICOT KEBABS
Makes 6 skewers, easily doubled. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for an hour to keep them from burning. Serve these over rice or couscous. Tip: If you’re unfamiliar with couscous, find packaged mixes in the rice or quick-cook section of the supermarket.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Several grinds pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
8 to 9 apricots, cut in half, pits removed
Page 2 of 2 - 2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Put chicken pieces into a medium bowl. Add garlic, salt, pepper ginger, cinnamon, orange juice, honey; mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate 2 hours to overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Make a glaze by whisking together honey, orange and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bringing to a boil for 30 seconds until it thickens. Cool before using.
3.Thread chicken and apricot halves on skewers, alternating 2 chicken pieces to 1 apricot half. Grill over charcoal for 15 minutes, or broil, turning once. Just before chicken is ready to come off the grill, brush with the glaze. Remove from the grill.
YOGURT DIPPING SAUCE
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons honey
Stir ingredients together. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for one hour. Bring to room temperature before using as a dipping sauce for the kebabs. Makes about 1 cup.
ROASTED PEARS WITH ANISE
4 pears, cut in half and cored
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons anise or fennel-flavored liqueur
3/4 cup heavy cream whipped with 2 tablespoons sour cream, optional
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking dish large enough to hold the pears.
2. Place pears cut-side up in the dish. Dot with butter. Drizzle with honey and liqueur. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake until pears are tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving dish.
3. Pour the cooking juices from the baking dish into a bowl; refrigerate until cool. Drizzle juices over the pears. If you wish, dollop the tops with the whipped cream mixture. Makes 8 pear halves.
Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com. Follow Linda on Twitter @KitchenCall for a daily kitchen hint, trick, shortcut or info.