Bitter Sweet: A Wartime Journal and Heirloom Recipes from Occupied France
In our speaker’s own words: “I’d never come across another suitcase quite like it. But what was the tattered black leather valise doing there, hidden behind a crocheted comforter on the top shelf of my late mother’s closet? The tarnished brass locking mechanism had already been sprung.”
… Looking up at me from inside la petite valise was a photographic portrait of a teenage girl dressed in the traditional Alsatian attire of the late 1800s, complete with an oversized black bow in her hair. Blanche Lévy-Neymarck, my great grandmother and namesake. Her portrait partially hid a pocket-size doctor’s notebook titled Carnet Médical 1936, the daily journal of Doctor Prosper Lévy, my great-grandfather, a distinguished army surgeon twice the recipient of the Legion of Honor, that commemorated the advance of the Germans on Eastern France from April to December 1940.
As I dug deeper, I retrieved another notebook containing close to 120 of Blanche’s handwritten recipes. This gave rise to the question: what would I do with all the information? The answer became clear. I would publish Prosper’s journal along with Blanche’s recipes—as a way to memorialize and breathe life back into a family so ruthlessly destroyed.
I translated journal and recipes from the French, and kitchen-tested the dishes for the American kitchen. My husband, Owen Morse, provided the food photography for Bitter Sweet: A Wartime Journal and Heirloom Recipes from Occupied France.
Kitty Morse was born in Casablanca, Morocco, of a French mother and British father, and emigrated to the United States in 1964. She began catering Moroccan parties while studying for her Master’s Degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Catering and giving Moroccan cooking classes eventually led to writing ten cookbooks, including the award-winning Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen, The vegetarian table: North Africa, and The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine from Morocco. Her first memoir, Mint Tea and Minarets: a Banquet of Moroccan Memories, which she translated into French as Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued, were recipients of a Gourmet World Cookbook Award.
Kitty’s career as a food writer, cooking instructor, and tour leader spans more than three decades. She has contributed articles in French and English to leading publications in the US and abroad, and has been a guest on local and national television stations. She is a staff writer for winedineandtravel.com, an award-winning online travel magazine. Kitty has lectured around the country on Moroccan cuisine and culture. One of the highlights of her career was cooking alongside Julia Child to benefit the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Kitty lives in Vista, CA.
To order books: Unsigned copies of Bitter Sweet are listed on Amazon.com as a preorder. The books will be available in March 2023.
For a signed copy shipped directly, please contact Kitty Morse at email@example.com. Shipping via media mail in the US only. Send a check for $37.50 made out to Kitty Morse, La Caravane Publishing, P.O. Box 433, Vista CA 92083.
Recorded via Zoom on February 15, 2023
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