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Algeria: Exquisite North African-Mediterranean Cuisine

October 4, 2009

North African Spice Blends

I’m having problems with the cuisine of Algeria:

Where to start? Where to stop? What NOT to include?

Chef Farid Zati describes the cuisine of Algeria as a Mediterranean Creole. It’s a beautiful mix of Berber/African, Jewish, Arab, Moorish/Turkish, Spanish/Catalan, Italian/Sicilian, and French influences. I grow more and more excited about the exploration of this cuisine, as I read about it. The flavor combinations are often a sophisticated layering of spicy, savory, and sweet.

A friend asked me yesterday why I’m undertaking this project, especially during lean money times. To be completely honest, I feel compelled to do this. Almost pushed by my desire to have a better understanding of my fellow man. My glimpses into the cooking traditions of the world may be brief but I believe there will be insights gained that will last throughout my life. Perhaps it’s one way to elevate the comforts buried in a world filled with chaos.

We’ll see.

I’m sure of this, the food will taste great.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2009 8:20 am

    In researching for a writing project I came across a book (wish I’d bought it) about the history of food. It traced the origins of foods and spices and their trade routes. For example, think of what a huge territory the Romans covered, and how a legion in North Africa might have discovered a spice there, and that spice might have traveled or been traded to a legion in Britain or what is now Iraq.

    It’s why, even in the Dark Ages, Romano Britons drank wines from Italy and ate spices from the Middle East (until their trade routes were blocked by invaders).

    Foods of the world have truly been Foods Of The World for a long time.

    This is what intrigues me most about your project.

  2. October 5, 2009 10:23 am

    Personally, this has always been one of the most exciting aspects of food history. One spice can tell you so many stories about a country’s past. So much of the food history comes down to who was trading with whom and who invaded whom. Algeria is such an example of this. Another great example is Angola. The Portuguese influence on their cuisine is significant.

    In Algeria, the enigmatic Phoenicians were a significant early influence and are even credited with bringing winemaking to the country. Their robust, long-range trade routes were the foundation for the Mediterranean region’s economy. Man, I have always loved studying the Phoenicians. Second only to my love of the Etruscans.

    Nobody beats the Romans, though, for dragging their playthings into everyone else’s sandboxes! Along with spices, herbs, recipes and cooking methods their invading-jones also brought winemaking to many of the world’s countries. Under Roman rule, Algerian wine cultivation grew even stronger.

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  1. Algeria: Exquisite North African-Mediterranean Cuisine (via I Cook The World) « 32countries

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