Couscous, such a magical dish that makes families gather around the same table

Tuesday, 24.01.2017

Couscous, such a magical dish that makes families gather around the same table

Couscous, such a magical dish that makes families gather around the same table

Writer: Omar Bihmidine
Levant TV

> Couscous, a North African dish made from steamed semolina, is part and parcel of Moroccans’ cuisine and eating habits. Nearly all homes in the kingdom eat this traditional dish on Fridays. Hearing of couscous in everyday conversations brings one back to the identity of Berbers and the cultural diversity of all people regardless of their religion, race or language. Tourists themselves read about the dish first before coming to Morocco. ” Please, a dish of couscous, “Tourists from Europe order at Moroccan restaurants.
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> Other North African countries, including Libya and Algeria, are also noted for the traditional dish. Yet, Morocco has long celebrated the dish and promoted it as the meal of all people. Talking to Levant TV, a chef from Tafraout said, ” We can’t attract tourists without serving them a dish of couscous. They already know it. They cherish it more than pizzas when they arrive here.” European retirees who resort to Tafraout, a southern paradise, in their camping cars chase every opportunity to eat fresh food made from local vegetables. One of the delicacies is couscous. ” As you know, European retirees are sick and tired of genetically modified dishes. Serving them couscous is their ultimate pursuit, ” the chef added.
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> According to some histroy books, Berbers were the first to prepare the dish and pass it on from generation to generation, especially given that they have inhabited North Africa for more than 4000 years. Talking to Levant TV, Khadija Oum Ashraf, a mother of two kids, said, ” Our ancestors made Couscous their daily meal. Now in Tourirt village, nearly all families still have the delicacy for lunch and Tagine for dinner. But a day without couscous is a bad day for many.” ” To best honor guests, we serve them Couscous. And they so much enjoy it. It’s such a tasty dish,” Khadija added.
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> It is not then surprising that a number of Berber are leading healthy lives. In addition to walking every day, they serve themselves such a nutritious dish. The latter is made from carrots, pumpkin, onion, courgette, chickpeas, chicken or meat and vegetal gravy. Steaming the ingredients make it healthier. How delicious! many locals say. One of the signs Berbers, along with Arabs, are still preserving their identity and culture is holding on to the dish, especially in the presence of a variety of today’s delicacies.
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> Upon arriving from Friday prayer, Berber women always serve the dish, not only as a sign of their cultural identity, but also as a sign of patrimony preservation. What’s more magical about couscous aren’t only the ingredients but also the way skillful women prepare it. Only women who are experts at Moroccan cuisine can make a tasty one. Talking to Levant TV, Jamal Aglo, a sociology teacher in Larache, said ” One of the first things men who think about marriage ask: does the girl know how to cook couscous? If not, they say, she is not a serious girl.” ” Even if this is sexist, couscous is so important in Moroccans’ lives that men first make sure the girl they are going to marry have tried their hands at preparing couscous before,” Aglou explained.
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> In Moroccan society, people are known for their hospitality. Tourists, including foreign writers, have written a lot about this aspect of sharing, collaboration, tolerance and hospitality. In southern Morocco, when people spot a foreigner, they hasten to welcome them home and serve them couscous. Practising moderate Islam, which stresses the trait of sharing, families serve the dish where all hands fall on. The act of using one big dish is living proof that eating together means living together, standing together and serving one another.
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> Separate plates are avoided in that eating collectively, whether during a family gathering or a guests’ gathering values unity. So couscous is considered by many as a meal that gathers guests, people, family members, kids and the elderly. According to Amazigh culture, everbody should join. It’s impolite to say no to such a beautiful gathering.
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> In today’s busy world, Moroccans impatiently look forward to Friday when they take their share of Couscous and take a nap. Couscous is usually associated with rest time. This is one reason many are calling for a free Friday afternoon when they can take delight in enjoying their best time with their families, friends and guests. Couscous is such as an immortal magical dish that unites people of Morocco.

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