Tag Archives: Tunisia

Tunisian Msoki for Passover

TunisiaWhat to do when you are sick of macaroons and matzoh? During Passover leavened foods are no-go, but pre-made options can get a little old. For a change of pace, check out a delicious-sounding Tunisian lamb and artichoke stew, Msoki – seen below (another recipe here). Though the community is small now, Tunisia was once home to a large Jewish population with over 100,000 members, which gave birth to unique dishes like Msoki.msoki

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Tunisia: Chez Jafaar

Chez Jafaar
22 Rue du Sommerard
75005 Paris, France

It is almost criminal we think, that Tunisian food has so far eluded us. We absolutely love North African food and we can’t get enough of it. However, Tunisian places in Chicago are few and far between, while in Paris they are particularly common (we hear there is a place for Brik in Chicago, though). We were super excited to find a variety of places in Paris to try and made a shortlist – depending on which neighborhood we ended up in. At about lunch time we found ourselves on the left bank neart he Sorbonne– right near Chez Jafaar. Our intrepid Paris hosts I & T were up for almost any kind of food adventure (which is why they are our friends!) so off to Chez Jafaar we went.

We were also drawn in by the advertised lunch special – an appetizer or dessert and entree for 12 Euros. Other offerings on the menu included tagines and Tunisian specialties like brik and merguez sausage. Both T & L had the lunch special – appetizer of chorba soup, and a serving of chicken couscous (12 euros). The chorba was almost like a thick minestrone filled with celery and pasta shells. Since the weather outside was somewhat frightful, the soup just hit the spot. Since two at the table ordered the couscous it came out family style – with a giant plate of couscous, a giant plate of marinated chicken and a giant bowl of fragrant sauce – with tomato broth, whole carrots and potatoes.  M had a lamb and fig tajine, flavored with cinnamon, tumeric, walnuts, and with potatoes. The tajine came out steaming / bubbling hot, and there was a great mix of flavors. The lamb was very well done, tender and fall off the bone, and though the inclusion of the figs was a great taste complement, though he was surprised at how dry they were given how tender everything else in the tajine was.

In terms of general impressions, service was a little slow to get going, but our wonderful French-speaking friends, T & I, cleared that up! We were seated, and then over 20 minutes went by before we were thought of again. However, once they remembered us, the service was pretty speedy. Overall, the menu seemed a little on the pricy side when first entering, but we got a staggeringly large amount of food, so our trip to Chez Jafaar was well worth it. Too bad we were unable to take leftovers home….

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Eating North Africa: Makroud

Today someone at work returned from northern France with a treat from North Africa, Makroud/Makrout. Makrouds are sweet date pastries, made with semolina flour and dipped in honey, that (perhaps surprisingly) are not overly sweet. There are several varieties of Makroud across regions, including the makroud blanc (without a filling), and makrouds filled with almonds instead of dates. Naturally, due to immigration patterns, this delicious pastry has gotten a foothold in France. Apparently the French are a fan of not-sickly-sweet pastries, so the makroud fits the bill perfectly.

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World Eats: African Eats in Paris

Eating the World started as an idea in a Senegalese restaurant in Paris, and with a glimmer of a trip to France next year on the horizon, we are already in pre-pre-planning mode.  So in prep for that we have compiled some links that may prove helpful. African restaurants in Paris tend to be Northern and Western Africa – corresponding with the francophone regions of the continent. A large hub of the African population is the Goutte d’Or (Drop of Gold), located in the 18th arrondissement, along with Montmartre. For the flâneurs among us, we found an interesting self-guided walking tour of the Goutte d’Or on the Anglophone Parisian Site Parisvoice.

Goutte D’Or Market: Photo by Findustrip

First up foodwise, a comprehensive article from the New York Times extolling the charms of Paris’ African eats, ranging from trendy nightclubs to little patisseries. We are especially drawn to Algerian bakery La Bague de Kenza, (106, rue St.-Maur). However, befitting the more well-heeled NYT reader, the article covers more high priced eats. More our speed are hole-in-the-wall cafes selling the Tunisian egg and pastry specialty, Brik. At this the lower end of the price scale (less than 15 euros), Chowhound users weigh in with some recommendations: North African restaurants in Paris and Ethnic restaurants in Paris?. If you read French, we also found an interesting review site where you can search by cuisine, called Linternaute. It’s very comprehensive, and they even have a category for Réunionnais restaurants. Guess there aren’t many expatriates from Réunion in the US….

Kaysha performs at Moussa Restaurant in Paris: Photo by Kaysha

Though North African restaurants may be more numerous, other areas of Africa are represented. In the photo above, Kaysha, a French rapper of Congolese heritage, performs at Moussa, a restaurant specializing in West African cuisine (25-27, avenue Corentin Cariou). All of these wonderful recommendations are making us eager for our trip, even though it is a year away. Perhaps next week we will branch out to other esoteric cuisines found in Paris – Guadeloupan? Maltese? Corsican?

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