Couscous – Blissfully Tunisian food
Couscous is a regular meal for me, I eat it at least once a week when I am at home and, while I lived alone, I used to cook it myself. This form of couscous was always the pre-prepared form of that comes in a packet, usually pre-cooked ie just add water and heat! Brazilian couscous is served with a variety of accompaniments ie traditional (lamb / vegetable) or non-traditional (chopped hot-dog sausage, mushrooms etc) .
Part of my family lived in Tunisia and later in Libya (where I was born) and thus couscous formed a core part of our diet. My great-grandmother used to lead the preparation of couscous in the kitchen, working the durum semolina into the small, round pellets that would be cooked – meat and vegetables in a pot with the steam passing through the couscous, adding flavour as it filtered up through the semolina.
Tucked down a side road near the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele car park in the centre of Trapani is the Tunisian restaurant Dar El Medina which has a reputation not only for its traditional Tunisian dishes but also for Trapanese seafood.
I ordered the meat and vegetable couscous. This arrived in a traditional-style bowl filled with couscous, topped with meat and vegetables. A separate bowl contained the wonderful juice that would soak nicely into the couscous accompanied the dish. No wine as I was driving!
While I could have easily shared the food with another person, such was the size, I managed to consume all of it myself. It isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a form of fast food. I was happy to take my time and savour the flavours without rushing.
The couscous served in Brazil, which is known as cuscuz, is different – it is corn-based and thus has a different flavour. It is prepared both as a savoury dish (with chicken and vegetables) or as a dessert with coconut cream poured over it. The North African and South American variants are very different. In my opinion the original North African couscous is by far the best, but variety is good.
Dar El Medina
Via Marchese Enrico Platamone, 12
+39 0923 196 4100