Food plays a major part in shaping our identity. It is also a great tool to connect with other people from different ethnicities. A happy face and great food are all what you need to connect with other community members even if you don’t speak their language. For me, food has always allowed me to integrate to other cultures easily. As a student in France, I used to cook typical Moroccan dishes to friends who would enjoyed it and reciprocally they would cook French dishes (without pork obviously) including the notorious sweet desert “crêpes aux citrons”. Sharing good food helped us understand each other’s cultures without prejudices. On another note, I met my wife thanks, in part, to food. When I first met her, I cooked for her a typical Moroccan beloved dish: the tajine (see pictures). She was from Hong Kong and back there they love food too. So sharing food instantly helped us connect.
I lived overseas for almost two decades and while I enjoyed so much the diversity of food offered in different countries including France, Australia, and Japan, I retained a particular preference for my country of origin’s food. Prior research has found that Muslims in France tend to retain their dietary habits despite living in the host country for many years (Bonne & Vermeir 2007). This is so true in my case. It must be my “gut identity”, a sort of early life programming of my eating habits. I often cook tajine and I would like to share with you below a step-by-step guideline on how to cook it in your home:
1) The first step is to have the tajine, this clay-made dish, if you don’t have one don’t worry, get in touch with us here: https://koutchi.au/ and we will happily get you one.
2) Put olive oil in the tajine, let it heat for few minutes and add sliced tomatoes in layers (see pictures).
3) Add fish (lamb, beef, or chicken), freshly grounded garlic, preserved lemons, and onions.
4) Add sliced potatoes (see pictures) and add a small spoon of each of the following spices: ginger, smoked paprika, cumin (my mum cleaned it, dried it, and grounded it, so it is as fresh as it gets!), salt (talking about multiculturalism, mine is from Malta, see picture), and black pepper. Add some freshly cut coriander
5) Add a little bit of olive oil and Saffron. Close the lid and let to cook for 35-40min
Bonne, K., Vermeir, I., Bergeaud-Blackler, F., & Verbeke, W. (2007). Determinants of halal meat consumption in France. British Food Journal, 109(5), 367-386.