Sunday 16 May 2010

The Sunday Story: Couscous, marriage, and John Lennon.

When Lady Magnon agreed to become Lady Magnon, I whisked her off to Paris for all the legal stuff. Unfortunately we would have to have stayed for two weeks before becoming eligible to marry there, so we decided on Gibraltar instead.

Being a sort of upside-down person, I thought it would be fun to have our honeymoon first, so we took the ferry from southern Spain to Morocco.

This was culture-shock 'par excellence'. One minute Europe, the next Maghreb. In Spain the people were just like anyone else, but over that tiny strip of water it's all change. Morocco is another world; another culture. Everything is different. They even made Lady Magnon cut off my 'art student' shoulder length hair!!!

We found a hotel thanks to one of those 'charming young boys' who pester you around the docks, and ended up sharing a large hotel room with 3 Americans. The guy was a New York dentist, and the two girls were secretaries (I think).

This was the first time I'd heard of, and tasted, couscous; and I've never looked back (I'm actually writing this mid-tagine-cooking). I love it, and not a week goes by without my preparing a big dish of couscous, with a chicken or lamb tagine, merguez sausages, and plenty of firey harissa.

We had to return to Gibraltar by 'plane, as the Spanish were in a huff again, and had closed the border on their side. We were married a couple of days later, just after John Lennon and Yoko. The registrar thought 'she' looked like a little rat (but don't tell anyone he said so). I once cut most of her clothes off (you can tell people that).

Couscous then disappeared from my life for a while, but when we first moved to France in 1972 I was amused to see couscous on several menus in and around our nearby town of Fumel. I soon learnt that a high percentage of its population was from either Algeria or Morocco.

Couscous is now available, and popular, everywhere, but back in those days it was almost unheard of outside of north Africa. As with potatoes, pasta, and rice, life now wouldn't be the same without it.... Bon appetit!

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  1. Yum - again. Sadly, Her Indoors reckons she doesn't like couscous - so good, they named it twice. Yoko spread herself around in those days, eh?

  2. Hey Cro, how the other half lives! It was a bit tight of them Moroccans to make Lady M cut your hair like that! When we got married in 1966, the vicar emmigrated 2 weeks before we tied the knot - perhaps he was trying to tell us something. Anyway - we're still going strong and life is pretty good. I've never been to Morocco and I've never eaten couscous. Perhaps the best is yet to be!! Have a good day.

  3. Molly, the nasty man at the port of Tangier kept pointing to his own crew-cut, saying "like mine, like mine". Then when we were in town we kept seeing people with long hair. It made me mad at the time, but it was much cooler!

  4. Yummy, I love couscous.

    So you were at one of Yoko's clothes cutting shows? How cool!

  5. I envy your visit to Morocco -- in 1977, when I was backpacking around Europe with a couple of friends, they vetoed a sojourn to Morocco because they were afraid of being kidnapped into white slavery. Now, perhaps they had a point -- or maybe they were just overly fearful white girls from the American outback (as it were) -- but at that age I was fearless and thirsting for adventure. In the end, I chose not to go alone, alas. Hrrmph, is all I can say.

  6. Amy, I cut her clothes off at a venue in London. She was slightly indignant that I was going at it a bit too enthusiastically. She wanted a bit left for others to cut off. Cro doesn't do things by halves.

  7. T. There's still time. You wouldn't regret it. A wonderful country; they've got enough white slaves now!

  8. Oh, I LOVE couscous! Too bad it's quite high in calories because I could eat a plate full. So yummy.

  9. Mmm-mmm, serve me up some, please, kind sir.


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