04 April 2006

Is it too much to ask that...?

cous-cous be steamed 2-3 times instead of just dumping boiling water on it and fluffing it with a fork? I mean, really, people.
When I feel like laughing or crying I google recipes for couscous. The vast majority are junk. ... Of course I'm delighted that couscous is becoming increasingly popular in different parts of the world and it's none of my business to tell someone what they can or cannot do with couscous.

If you want to eat delicious couscous it must be steamed at least 2-3 times. There really is no other way. ... If you are chef who has published such a recipe I really hope you don't prepare it like that in your restaurant. ...

Okay, I've been googling more. It looks like every Tom, Dick and Harry site has a couscous recipe! Maghrebis and couscous fans UNITE, email them, tell them how couscous should be prepared!!!!

From an Algerian cooking blog that's making me hungry, linked from an article about Bague de Kenza (Since I was buying for my whole department, I instead went to a cheaper place in the 18th called El Andalousia; also tasty, but of course I can't compare.)

But my point isn't about cous-cous, it's about what motivates people to begin an impassioned rant. Recently on the BBC I heard part of a Distinguished Lecture by this gentleman:

This year's Reith Lecturer is the eminent conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, a leading cultural figure of our time. His remarkable career spans more than five decades. He has worked with all the world's great orchestras and now holds the posts of Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and General Music Director of the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin.

He is also co-founder, with the late Edward Said, of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra which brings together young Arab and Israeli musicians. "Music", argues Barenboim, "lies at the heart of what it is to be human".

Should be good, eh? And the theme of the lecture?
In this lecture recorded in front of an audience at the Symphony Center in Chicago, Barenboim tries to rescue the neglected sense - the ear - and launches his own campaign against muzak.
He descibes his experience in writing to American Standard (you know, the company that makes toilets) to complain about their choice of Mozart's Requiem as the soundtrack for one of their toilet commercials. Apparently confusing him with a more common kind of letter-writing nutjob, they sent back a form letter saying that they weren't aware of the religious significance of the music, but were responding to complaints in the next round of commercials by replacing it with one of the highlights from something by Wagner which "music experts had assured them had no religious significance whatsoever."

I laugh, but I get far more comments about the exponential letter than anything else on this blog.


aram harrow said...

I should mention, in case my above sarcasm was too dry, that this is the first I had ever heard of these advanced cous cous cooking techniques. And I still pretty much belong to the "dump boiling water on and let stand for 5 minutes" camp.

This reminds of a recent conversation I had in Bristol where I responded to a sarcastic comment with another yet dryer one that played along, which prompted a "Oh yeah, I forgot that you're an American, so you're not familiar with sarcasm."

I couldn't top that one.

Bryce said...

After getting to the end of this blog, and then reading "the exponential latter", I was about to leave a comment on that one. But then I realized that that would just be proving your point. So I thought I'd mix it up for you.

aram harrow said...

I finally looked up his cous-cous cooking technique. It takes over two hours! I mean, I'm sure it tastes better than mine, but that could also be because of the ratio of one stick of butter to one pound of dry couscous.

I poured boiling water over a bowl of couscous when I started this comment, and now I'm going to get up and eat it with my leftover stew.