Tuesday, March 18, 2008


One of my favorite things about moving to the bay area twelve years ago was the diversity. Where I lived in upstate New York, diversity meant either black or white, with perhaps a sprinkling of Asian. Having lived before that in Hawaii and California, I missed all those shades in between. When I moved back to California, there it was again, reflected also in the cuisines, all the variety and inventiveness than hungry humans bring to the table.

Yes, we went to Paris last week to enjoy French food, but we also loved the diversity of cultures we found there, too. To wit, Tunisian couscous and tagine at Chez Jaafar on the Left Bank near Les Deux Magots and St. Germain des Pre. Just the name Chez Jaafar is richer than either the French or the Tunisian words alone would have been.

The flavors were wonderfully combined, too. I chose a plate of the house specialty and enjoyed all in the same stew poured over tender couscous the distinct tastes of lamb, merguez sausage and meatballs flavored with mint blended with winter veggies like carrot, turnip, rutabaga and potato in a sauce that featured tomatoes from last summer, mysteriously revitalized in March. The couscous, veggie sauce and grilled meats were each offered separately so I could enjoy any combination I preferred. Just the plate alone was beautiful enough to eat.

Sunday lunch on the Left Bank in Paris. Vive la diversite'!


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