Museum of Fine Arts in Paris reopens with hajis selling gemstone dresses

“Princess [Maud] was very very concerned with food, in Morocco,” the curator of the Musee d’Orsay, Marie-Hélène Lebeau, told me as we toured the museum. “So we’re at this point collecting chefs. There are…

Museum of Fine Arts in Paris reopens with hajis selling gemstone dresses

“Princess [Maud] was very very concerned with food, in Morocco,” the curator of the Musee d’Orsay, Marie-Hélène Lebeau, told me as we toured the museum. “So we’re at this point collecting chefs. There are 45 specialists of the region — marzipan artists, sugar factory craftsmen — not only for Moroccan cuisine, but also for the regional products that are important for this cuisine: blackberries, sesame seeds, grapes, lemon, olive oil.”

The exhibit also features products produced in other countries by hajis, or concubines, of yesteryear. Some of the $150,000 worth of hajis’ pieces, as the merchandise is called, hang in dressing rooms and are the reason the museum is so beautifully decorated.

Last month, I visited the Musee d’Orsay for the first time as part of a trip from New York that also included a city tour and lunch at Café Daouk. Each day we ate in a different city, offering a new perspective on each place.

While on Saturday, I ate hearty meals in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. The day before, I ate at Café Daouk in Seattle, Belgium, and enjoyed the pan-Arab meals cooked by the chef Kamel Chowdhury.

Born in Lajpur, Bangladesh, Chowdhury emigrated to Brussels in 1990. A popular name in the Brussels restaurant scene, Chowdhury has been featured in Bon Appétit and Redbook magazine and serves as a mentor at the Cafe de la Merle St. Michelin-starred restaurant.

He will not have another consecutive position at the cafe, but will continue his partnership with Andre Vergara, the owner, according to a spokesperson for the restaurant. Chowdhury will return to “the kitchen of a serious French-Moroccan food establishment.”

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