Je suis absolument “Hank Marvin” et je pourrait tuer pour un “Ruby Murray”

These are the words Parisian restaurateurs would be hearing if the rugby world cup was taking place in France. Ethnic food is the lifeblood of English cuisine. Take away, an apposite word indeed, the Indian, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Lebanese et al, and you’re not left with a lot of affordable places to eat that serve delicious food. This is not by way of criticism, it’s just how it is in the most cosmopolitan country in the world. However, it is interesting to note that most restaurants in Italy serve Italian cuisine, and I’m pretty damn sure that the majority of Italians are not pining for a Tikka Masala. Strangely enough, in the current issue of a well known cook’s eponymous magazine, his second offering of local English food is a rabbit bolognese. As far as I’m concerned bunny bol would be delicious, if rabbit could get past the customs post at the kitchen door. France, that is the eating French public, would love to have this array of ethnic eateries but the government and endless taxes and reglementations put a stop to any of that behaviour aside from Maroccan cuisine – well, cous cous and tagines. Starved of my previous outings for a Ruby and bereft of MSG, I have fallen for their subtler charms. There is also the fact that I have yet to meet anyone who cooks good Indian food at home (apart from Indians or those who have lived for any length of time in the sub continent) and the same goes for Chinese food. Thankfully it is possible to make good cous cous at home, maybe not as authentic as the recipes from the classic “Traditional Maroccan Cooking” by Mme. Guinaudeau, but it is an authenticity from which I am happy to be spared. Grilled sheep’s head or tagine of sheep’s trotters would not sit well with the missus. The simple way is to gently steam the “semoule” or grain (not as in the picture, but covered) over a couscousiere of highly spiced broth filled with onions, carrots, green beans and chick peas. The chicken pieces for the tagine should be marinaded in a “chermoula” paste of garlic, onions, preserved lemons, flat leaf parsley, coriander, ras al hanout, salt and pepper. The chicken is browned in the tagine on top of the stove and the remains of the chermoula added. Dried apricots, almonds, chick peas, tiny new potatoes, olives and honey are added together with enough stock to nearly cover the chicken. Cook slowly until it is ready, which is when the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through. Most middle Eastern food is created with the premise that it will be shared amongst family and friends and this is no exception.

Translation of the title of the post for non UK readers would be – “I am absolutely starving and I would kill for a curry”


























About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in Almonds, apricots, broad beans, Chick peas, Chicken, Cooking, Coriander, cous cous, couscous, family, Flat parsley, Food and Photography, France, friendship, green beans, harmony, Honey, lifestyle, Mediterranean food, Mme.Guinaudeau, new potatoes, olives, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, preserved lemons, Rabbit, ras al hanout, sea salt, tagine. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Je suis absolument “Hank Marvin” et je pourrait tuer pour un “Ruby Murray”

  1. That looks and sounds wonderful. Your comment about Italy made me recall a story of a walled city there, where there was quite a culture clash. The tourists wanted Italian food, the locals, especially the young ones, kebabs. It’s been too long I don’t remember where I read it.

  2. Cor blimey guv, am Hank Marvin too for a Ruby! Luckily am off to London in two weeks…in the meantime, I may have to make a beautiful cous cous. When I worked in Paris we had a fantastic “caff” (can´t call it a restaurant as it was very basic) where we went for lunch most days and Friday was always cous cous – and it was amazing!

  3. There’s something about the shape of a tagine that guarantees delight.

  4. ChgoJohn says:

    As I’ve come to expect, your observations of London are spot on. I’m very lucky to live quite close to the area of Chicago known for it’s Indian restaurants and shops, making it very easy to ether enjoy a restaurant’s fare or buy the ingredients to make something for yourself. Gee, Roger. I’m 400 miles from home and you’ve got me thinking of a curry for lunch!

  5. I like the reflection off the liquid in the tagine!

  6. Tonight I made couscous in a tagine pot I bought in Fes last year. Sadly, it was not as good as I hoped it would be.

    You can have cheap and good Japanese food here and as you say about Middle Eastern food, it’s common to eat “family style” in restaurants.

    Your chicken dish looks amazing…

  7. ambrosiana says:

    Your observation of Italians is right! Italians do prefer Italian cuisine. There is no question about it!!! They have deep rooted culinary traditions and – most of the time- they are more interesting in discovering the different foods from the different Regions throughout the country. Take for example: Sicily’s food and Trentino Alto Adige food…if you compared these, you would never think that they come from the same country!!! Yet, things are changing: the increase in immigrants has brought a lot of ethnic food into the country, so you see that little by little Italians are getting to know and accept different flavors….

  8. This looks wonderful, reminds me of a trip to Morocco, we bought back a lovely Tagine, it’s great to serve food with but no good to cook with.
    Your food and photography are spot on.

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