Culinary Anthropologist


  1. Flavours of Fieldwork Secret Kitchen series

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    Flavours of Fieldwork
    in association with the SOAS Food Studies Centre

    Anna is hosting a series of dinners based on anthropology PhD students’ research in Morocco, Japan, China and Greece. Each dinner will bring to life recipes and stories from fieldwork in home kitchens, restaurants, shops and archives, reveal some surprising insights into cuisines you thought you knew, and demonstrate ways in which research into food contributes so much to anthropology today. Expect welcome drinks, feasting at communal tables and a delicious night out!


    K Graf pic Street marketA Moroccan Feast
    Fri 21st & Sat 22nd October 2016,
    with Katharina Graf

    Katharina spent months mastering the crafts of bread-making and couscous steaming, not to mention negotiating Marrakech’s street markets. She learnt to cook like the young Moroccan women around her – by sight, sound and touch – without a recipe book or set of scales in sight. Katharina’s research interests include the relationship between cooking and gender, the transmission of cooking knowledge across generations, and how home cooking reflects broader social changes in Morocco.

    Secret Kitchen oyakiRegional Japanese Cooking
    Fri 9th & Sat 10th December 2016
    with Celia Plender

    Regional food in Japan reveals a rich variety of cooking styles, tastes and ingredients. While some of these are seen as deeply embedded in the history and cultural practices of an area, others are identified as recently invented ‘traditions’. Both give insights into the social construction of local food and national cuisine. A decade ago Celia worked in a Tokyo restaurant and has since then regularly cooked and written about Japanese food. This dinner follows a recent trip to research regional Japanese cooking.

    Goanese balichao in a Macau wet market January 2016 copy tCantonese Masala
    Fri 17th & Sat 18th February 2017
    with Mukta Das

    Take a journey into the kitchens and cafes of 19th century Canton as we explore how experiments with spices have resulted in dishes that are now part of Macanese, Hong Kong or Cantonese culinary heritage. Mukta recently spent a year in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou with professional chefs and home cooks, and in the archives, uncovering some of the ways the centuries old maritime spice trade carved deep and aromatic channels into the everyday cooking in these old cities.

    A Greek Moveable Feast
    Fri 17th & Sat 18th March 2017
    with Nafsika Papacharalampous

    Nafsika undertook fieldwork in the delis and restaurant kitchens of Athens, following the journey of Greek peasant foods of the past (such as trahanas or beef tongue) into the urban present. She is now writing up her PhD on Greek poverty and artisan foods and their relationship to national identity, tradition, heritage and memory. She is also an experienced professional cook, with a passion for old Greek cookery books.


    To book your place:
    All events start at 7.30pm and cost £45. To book your place email Anna by clicking the ‘book now’ button below with the following: which dinner(s) you would like to attend, the number of people in your group, whether you prefer the Friday or Saturday or could do either, and whether anyone in your group has any special dietary requirements.

    Event:Flavours of Fieldwork Secret Kitchen series
    Date(s):October 2016 to March 2017
    Time:7.30pm - 11pm
    Location:London N5 (Arsenal tube 2 mins walk)
    Book now
    flagPlease read the booking terms & conditions before booking your place. Thank you.
  2. Secret Kitchen, Fri 21st & Sat 22nd October 2016 – a Moroccan feast

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    K Graf pic Street market

    Katie GrafFellow anthropologist Katharina Graf is returning to Anna’s kitchen this October for another Moroccan feast. This time the menu will include:

    Harira al-hamra (hearty tomato soup full of fresh herbs, served for major religious holidays such as Ramadan)

    Bastila (decadent sweet-savoury dish of chicken or pigeon, lemony eggs, almonds, fine pastry and spices, prepared in the royal cities of Morocco)

    Seffa (rich, buttery couscous with cinnamon and raisins, traditionally served as dessert after bastila)

    As any traveller to Morocco knows, the best cooking is most often found in people’s homes. Katharina spent months mastering the crafts of bread-making and couscous steaming, not to mentioning negotiating Marrakech’s street markets. She learnt to cook like the young Moroccan women around her – by sight, sound and touch – without a recipe book or set of scales in sight.

    IMG_4527tKatharina’s research interests include the relationship between cooking and gender, the transmission of cooking knowledge across generations, and how home cooking reflects broader social changes in Morocco.

    Katharina’s last dinners with Anna sold out fast and were a huge success, so book early to avoid disappointment!

    Please let us know about any dietary requirements when you make your booking.

    Event:Secret Kitchen
    Date(s):Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd October 2016
    Time:7.30pm - 11pm
    Location:London N5 (Arsenal tube 2 mins walk)
    Book now
    flagPlease read the booking terms & conditions before booking your place. Thank you.


  3. Sephardi orange & almond cake


    This recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden.  This cake has north African and Spanish roots.  According to Claudia, citrus cultivation and trade was particularly associated with Sephardi Jews around the Mediterranean, and there are any number of orange cake recipes in Sephardi culture.

    smbloodorange0001.jpgThis cake is remarkable for its total lack of both butter and flour.  You could use five or so clementines or tangerines instead of the oranges.

    Don’t worry if the cake sinks as it cools, or in fact turns out looking rather boring.  Trust me it is delicious, especially if served as a pudding with freshly sliced blood oranges and whipped cream.


  4. Herb jam

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    This is a Moroccan recipe, which I first learnt while working as an intern at Alice Waters’ restaurant, Chez Panisse, in California.  ‘Herb jam’ is Paula Wolfert’s name for this delicious, savoury salad-cum-relish.  The recipe here is based on one of hers.
    smherbjammaking0003.JPGThe key to success is patience.  You must wash vast quantities of greens and herbs, steam the greens, pound together the herbs and garlic, fry the olives and spices and then cook everything down together slowly in a wide pan until it resembles jam.  It’s a bit of a hassle, so I advise making a double batch (buy way more greens than you think it’s possible to cook) and freezing some.

    smherbjammaking0004.JPG But when you taste it, perhaps on crostini or with warm Moroccan bread, you’ll realise why this is such a special recipe.  If you love greens, olives and lemony flavours, you’ll adore this. Everyone I have cooked it for has found it a revelation.

    smherbjammaking0009.JPGFor the greens, use a mix of whatever you can find – spinach, chard, rocket, kale, sorrel, watercress, mustard greens, celery leaves, purslane…


  5. Pistachio stuffed dates

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    This is a Moroccan recipe, and the perfect accompaniment to mint tea to round off a lavish Moroccan feast.  Dates are one of Morocco’s finest exports.  While travelling around Morocco we drove all the way to Erfoud on the edge of the Sahara for its October date festival, only to find that the unusually wet weather had flooded most of the date palm groves and raging torrents had destroyed several key roads and bridges.  Not what we expected to find in the desert!

    smpistachiostuffeddates0001.JPGSmdateharvest0001.jpgFurther West, in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains, we caught up with the date harvest (see pic).  And just beyond we found the beautiful Valley of the Roses.  In spring this valley is carpeted with roses, whose petals are harvested to make fragrant rose water, used as both a culinary and cosmetic ingredient.  Rose water is also used in Iranian and Indian cuisine, and throughout the Arabic world.  It was much more popular, along with orange flower water, in European cuisine in the past than it is today.  Try it in cakes instead of vanilla.

    smpistachiobaklava0001.JPGBut pistachios will always make me think of Turkey, and in particular Gaziantep (formerly Antep), renowned throughout Turkey and beyond for the fine pistachios which thrive in the surrounding dry, low hills.  Here we ate our fill of baklava stuffed with naturally bright green pistachio paste, and marvelled at the women who sort the nuts one-by-one by hand, to ensure only the best are used.  As in Morocco, Turkish cuisine combines nuts and sugar to great effect.

    In London I buy my ‘Antep fıstığı’ (Antep nuts) from a brilliant little shop called Hot Nuts on Green Lanes, a few minutes walk from Manor House tube station.  Green Lanes and nearby Blackstock Road are also a sure bet for good dates and rose water.


  6. Chicken couscous with onion relish

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    This recipe is based on one given by Clifford Wright, an expert on Mediterranean cuisines and their histories.  I have made some changes to reflect my own culinary experiences in Morocco and personal taste.  This is not a quick or easy dish, but fantastic for feeding a crowd.  The chicken, vegetables and relish look magnificent piled on top of a vast mound of steaming couscous in the centre of the table.  Serve it with rose harissa sauce, for a fragrant chilli kick.

    smchickencouscousplated0003.JPGClifford tells us that couscous might have a sub-Saharan origin, and that the origin of the word may be Berber.  Having seen couscous cookery in Senegal and Mali, I can believe this.  One of its benefits is that it can be steamed over your pot of stew, so you only need one fire, which need not be a roaring hot one.  So it is practical and economical, not to mention delicious.


  7. Amlou

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    Amlou is served in Morocco with good fresh bread to dip in.  It’s eaten as a snack or appetizer, for example to welcome a guest into your house.  It is delicious, especially with a glass of mint tea.  The three key ingredients are all Moroccan specialities:  almonds, honey and argan oil.  Real argan oil, extracted from the kernels of the nuts of the argan tree, is expensive and hard to find outside Morocco, but is worth the effort.  Try to find one with a delicate nutty flavour, and check it has not gone rancid.   



  8. Lamb and quince tagine


    If you possess a quince tree, or know someone who does, you are a lucky person.  This year I joined that group of blessed souls when I discovered a man with a large fruit-laden specimen, or maybe he discovered me. 

    smquinces0003.JPGMy wooden crate of beautiful yellow, fuzzy fruit, looking a bit like misshapen fat pears, is rapidly emptying as I work my way through the quince wish list I’ve been compiling for several years…


  9. Moroccan bread

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    Bread is big in Morocco.  A meal is not complete without bread, and it is always fresh and always good.  You wouldn’t catch anyone mopping up their tagine with white sliced ‘plastic’ bread.  It has to be the real deal.

    ChezAfida0007.JPGMany of my memories from Morocco involve bread: women at home kneeling on the floor kneading dough in a gsar (wide earthenware dish); rounds of dough rising underneath warm Smbreadoven0001.JPGsheepskins; children in the street ferrying loaves on planks of wood on their heads to and from the neighbourhood bakery; men baking thousands of loaves each day in huge wood-fired ovens, the smell wafting out onto the street; or women in mountain villages baking one at a time in  tiny home-made mud ovens at home; people arriving home with their freshly baked loaves for dinner, each marked with the family’s own signature gashes; the delicious combination of fresh bread and olive oil, enjoyed on arrival in many homes; the mother of the household tearing the warm disks into rough wedges and plonking them in front of each diner, shouting “eat, eat!” 


  10. Moroccan beetroot salad

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    ‘Kemia’ – various salads, often made with cooked vegetables – are served at the start of a Moroccan meal, a bit like tapas in Spain or meze in Turkey.  They are always beautifully presented, to stimulate the appetite, and subtly spiced with classic Moroccan flavours such as mint, parsley, pepper, cumin, cinnamon and citrus.  The beauty for the cook is that you can prepare them all in advance and serve them at room temperature.
    Smbeetkemia0001.JPGOf course, if you prefer you can roast the beetroots rather than boil them:  Place them, whole and unpeeled, in a roasting tin with a splash of olive oil and water.  Sprinkle with salt, cover tightly with foil and roast in a hot oven until tender throughout.  I feel this method works better with summer beetroot, and those at the start of the winter season.  These days boiling seems preferable.

    This would probably never happen in Morocco, but I like to serve this salad over a bed of full-fat plain yoghurt.  The flavours go so well together, and the beetroot juices bleed into the yoghurt creating bright pink streaks and swirls.