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”