Monday, July 16, 2007

Is CousCous the new Can-Can?

It has been said that the most ordered dish in the U.K. is no longer fish and chips but rather curry, or "a curry" as our long-lost cousins say it.

Will the same will be true of France, soon?

From this side of the frog pond, we see french cuisine as steak tartare, coq au vin, escargots bourguignons, creme caramel, sole al. But, there is another dish that has made its way to mainstream French households, restaurants and the average Frenchman's vernacular and stomach - couscous. Couscous is a Northern African mini-pasta dish that takes a long time to cook and is served with either vegetables, meats (merguez - hot spicy sausages coveted by all persons French)etc.. today, alongside all the restaurants name Chez Paul, Chez Pierre, Chez Joseph - you will now find a Chez Omar and the reason is it packed nightly is for its couscous.

How did couscous make its way from Algeria and its neighboring countries to the tables of the Martins, Gauthiers, and Rousseau's? It made its way over time through the channel of France's colonial past in Northern Africa, through the "pied-noirs" French who lived there and later returned to France and through the Northern African transplants who have since set up many a restaurant probably to feed themselves and their fellow Northern Africans but this trickled down to the average French.

Colonialism forever changed France - the fact that couscous is now as French as the can-can is but a tangible proof of this.

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