All posts filed under: Mauritania


Monday Meal Review: Mauritania

I was talking with someone the other day about what this Adventure is all about. She wanted to know if I really thought I could change the world by cooking a meal from every country. “It just doesn’t seem realistic” she said. I considered my answer, gazing at the puffy clouds dotted throughout the blue sky. I immediately thought of our latest Global Table meal – Mauritania, in northern Africa. The week was all about food cooked more than once: Stuffing simmered before roasting. Couscous steamed twice before spooning. Tea boiled four times before sipping. While each dish was easy enough, there was a lot of waiting around. Of listening to the ticking clock. Of watching the birds sing and swoop just outside our window. Of talking and dreaming and talking some more. Of taking the time to really see and hear each other. After all, what else is there to do while cooking and recooking all that food? “Maybe changing the world is as simple as slowing down enough to experience it,” I finally said, “to appreciate …

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Leg of Lamb with Dried Fruit Stuffing | Mechoui

I think I’ve easily quadrupled my lamb intake (for my entire life) during this Global Table Adventure … and we’re only halfway through). Wowzers. As for Keith, a.k.a. Mr Picky, he claims to have never even had lamb until this Adventure. Today we’re tackling the lambiest of all lamb dishes – Mechoui, a dish enjoyed in Mauritania and nearby Morocco. Think “epic stuffed leg of lamb.” This Mauritanian version includes a sweet filling made with dried fruit and rice – a perfectly addicting way to perk up the intense gaminess of the roast. While I found the dish absolutely delicious, I regret to say that “stuffing the lamb” didn’t work out as I had hoped. If this happens to you, please know that the filling is just as tasty roasted and served on the side of the lamb. No biggie. Adapted from the World Cookbook for Students. Serves 6 Ingredients: 1 leg of lamb – 3.5 -4 pounds 1/4 cup raisins 2 pitted dates, chopped 4 dried figs, chopped 1 onion, diced 1 cup rice, …

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Traditional North African Green Mint Tea

Do you have a steady hand? Can you pour tea from several feet up without shaking, spilling, or missing entirely? If so, give me a call. We’re going to need you. We’ve got some frothy tea to make. It’s going to be fun. In fact, quite possibly the most fun I’ve had on this Adventure to eat the world is when we try new teas. The effort is minimal, yet the flavor impact is huge. Today is no exception. Not only did we buckle up to try the super sweet “Morroccan-style” green mint tea served all over north Africa, but I took care to prepare it the traditional way, in small glass tea cups (available at Middle Eastern markets – 6/$6).  The trick is to cook the tea several times and pour the tea from way up high -about 2-3 feet. This creates a frothy top that looks, right after pouring, a lot like a tiny tumbler of beer. And then there’s quite possible the most important part: the chitter chatter along the way. This …

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Rainy Day Steamed Couscous

I’ve been putting off making couscous. I don’t mean the boxed, nearly instant kind – I make that fairly often. What I’m tackling today is delicate, fluffy steamed couscous. The kind  you buy in the bulk bin. The kind that fluffs up like a dream. According to Clifford A. Wright, steaming the tiny pearls twice, sometimes three times, is the “only” way to make proper couscous. Color me intrigued. While we’ve cooked many countries that enjoy couscous (Libya and Algeria for example), I put off making authentic couscous because I was… well… afraid of failure. I have a tendency to do that when it comes to trying something new. I dance around challenge, especially when I’m tired. However, on quiet rainy days, when there is nothing else to do, I feel braver. Like I can accomplish anything. Be anything. That’s when I’m most likely to  buckle down and go for it in the kitchen. It’s like there’s a cloudy cushion surrounding me, making it okay. Turns out, Clifford A. Wright is on the same wavelength. He suggests, …

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Menu: Mauritania

Welcome to comfort food, Mauritania-style. Apparently this is exactly what my spirit needs. Remember yesterday, when I told you it had been raining for 24 hours? Well, the rain continued to fall all day and most of the night (and even this morning). This “popcorn in the sky,” as Ava calls it, is greening up the grass, feeding our trees, and preparing seeds to shoot up in time for spring. These are all good things. But, I’m feeling a little sleepy, a little bluesy, and, if you don’t mind, I simply need a few recipes to take the chill out of the air. Ironically, this menu is enjoyed in the hot sands of Mauritania. Let’s not question my logic. Let’s just make our tummies happy. Mechoui (Leg of Lamb stuffed with Dried Fruit) [Recipe] Roast lamb stuffed with rice, sweet figs, dates, and raisins. Rainy Day Cous Cous [Recipe] This vegan side dish is my take on authentic twice-steamed couscous. For all the complicated recipes out there, it is not as scary as it sounds. I even tossed a few …

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Oasis of Varesse (Adrar, Mauritania). Photo by Ji-Elle

About the food of Mauritania

It’s been raining in Tulsa for the last 24 hours. I am surrounded by a constant drip drop, dreaming of dryness. How often I find myself pulled away from the beauty of what I have to what I wish I had. It is in this state of insatiable hunger that I begin the week’s work.  It is in this mood that Mauritania enters my line of vision. Ah, Mauritania – how little I knew about you until this moment. This imposing hunk of land flanks northwest Africa and stretches from barmy ocean to windswept desert. Exactly what I need, it would seem. The best of both worlds – wet and dry. Perhaps, I think to myself, I could join her population of ever-wandering nomads, and live a life of contentment, constantly stimulated by new sights – new places. And then there’s the food. This place is serious. After all, camel is reputedly the most popular meat in the country, followed by lamb. Camel’s milk, naturally, is sipped to stay hydrated and nourished in the scorching desert. …

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