Friday, August 09, 2013


As it was friday, I decided to get the traditional Moroccan friday meal: couscous.  I meandered over to the Quartier Latin and found a proper Maroc couscouserie.

I chatted with the waiters in Moroccan Arabic.  They couldn't believe an American could parlay. They were convinced I had Moroccan roots somewhere.  Shake that family date tree...

I ordered a couscous b'djeej (couscous with chicken) and a pastis.

An Asiatic couple who live in Australia sat at the close table next to me.

The silver platter of soft yellow couscous came, and with it a giant white bowl of stewed carrots, potatoes and chickpeas, swimming in a delicious broth, and a piece of grilled chicken on a platter.

I began pouring the vegetable broth on the couscous and picking pieces of the grilled chicken off and onto the plate of couscous, broth and veggies.

And then I got to work, making couscous balls with my hand.

The stunned waiter said to me in Arabic: "You know in the village we eat like that, but here in the medina (city) we usually eat with a fork."

I replied in Arabic that I was always in the village.

He laughed so hard he almost dropped the tray he was carrying.

In between shoveling couscous into my mouth, I asked pardon from my neighbors for my manners.

"Don't worry," he said, "I'm from Burma, we eat rice that way." He also mentioned he worked in Bahrain and Saudi, and they ate that way too.

We chatted for a while, in between hand shovels into my chaw.  He was an oil and gas man, and had lived in Houston, and also in Columbia, Maryland.  We were practically neighbors.  He and his wife were in Paris on holiday, and were off tomorrow to Versailles.

The waiters laughed, and eyed me a little funny--at the gringo American eating like a local in a foreign locale.

I finished my couscous, bade my neighbors goodbye.  I left a big tip (almost 20%!).  I bade the waiters "b'slama." They smiled big, and wished peace in my journey on.

I wandered to the Seine to watch the sun set golden then dark cherry across the multitude of bridges that cross the vein of Paris.

I walked along the banks of the Seine to take a constitutional for my couscous belly.  I had walked my way there, inshallah, I could walk my way home.


John Brown said...

Paul -- Very nice piece indeed. Thank you.

Paul Rockower said...

merci et shukran b'zeff, Sayid Asmar