05 July 2012

Chez Nous


That's our new kitchen up there, as you can see we have a view of a park and I love having big windows to look out when I'm doing the dishes. There's a playground nearby and you can hear children and the splashing of a fountain when you open the windows or sit out on the patio.

I'm not really sure what to say about Algiers. I've traveled and lived in the Middle East a lot over the years, but I've never moved to somewhere I'd never even visited before. So for now, we're just taking it all in. So far we've been pleasantly surprised. Algiers is lush, there are trees and plants and huge mountains of bougainvillea and plumbago and trumpetvine hanging over every wall. Also, everyone we knew who had been here before had given us some pretty negative advice - how terrible the drivers are, how hard it is to get around, how you can't get flour, spices, cheese, etc.

I have no idea what these advice-givers were doing, but we managed to prove them wrong within our first day in Algiers. The traffic is no different than Beirut or Amman, and it seems easy to get most things we need nearby. Like most of the world, we don't have big supermarkets, but the superettes have most things you need (including spices!), there's at least three locally made kinds of camembert, plus gouda and cheddar, goat cheese and big wheels of roquefort that the guy will happily slice for you. One superette near us even has Skippy peanut butter and a section of gluten free items.

The fruit here is fantastic - figs, apricots, so many kinds of plums. The produce in general is actual real produce, full of flavor, and ready to be used right away, or it will go bad in a few days, because it's not bred to sit on the shelf for weeks. There are a few disappointments - there's no good local yogurt or labne (tragic), there's virtually no lettuce or greens that look edible, and while there's good bread you may have to drive to find it, as the local subsidized baguettes are not very good. But overall we're happy,and I plan to keep the gelato shop down the street in good business.


Algerian-Style Peppers (FelFel)
Algerians love to use spicy green and red peppers. This dish is my imitation of something a friend's housekeeper made. It's good as snack with some bread or as part of a mezze plate.

olive oil, salt
1/2 a large red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
2 large or 3 medium sized poblano-type peppers, light or dark green

1. Preheat the oven's broiler and set the oven temperature to 500 F. Rub a baking sheet with olive oil. Halve the peppers and set them cut side down on the baking sheet, rubbing their tops with a bit of olive oil. Broil until the peppers skin is blackened and bubbly in spots - this could take anywere from 15-25 minutes depending on your oven, so just keep an eye on them and be sure not to burn them.
2. Immediately place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, this will allow the peppers to steam and the skins to loosen. When the peppers are cool carefully peel off the blackened skins and discard. You don't have to be perfect about it. Slice the peppers lengthwise and cut them in to rectangular pieces. Set aside.
3. Heat some olive oil in a small pan. Add the onions and the garlic and saute until softened. Add the tomatoes with their juices and season with salt. Let the mixture simmer until the tomatoes are nice broken down, about 15-20 minutes. Add in the peppers and simmer another 5 minutes to blend. Drizzle some more olive oil over the whole thing, taste for seasoning. Remove from heat and let cool.


Indirect Heat said...

Enjoy your new home, it sounds fantastic. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures in cooking.

kateza'atar said...

That looks like Shakshouki, the Lebanese version. I can never find anything online about Shakshouki, only either Tunisian or Israeli recipes with poached eggs. My uncle taught me a simple dish of stewed peppers and tomatoes and called it Shakshouki!

Looks delish!

Dad said...

Wow, I'm sure you planned meticulously but your move to Algiers sure seemed out of the blue!

I have to say, the view from your kitchen window is pretty darned lovely - ' should give you plenty of inspiration.

yours in anticpation

(no relation)

Ena said...

Last night I saw a documentary called El Gusto about a group of Muslim and Jewish musicians (all born in Algiers but some living in France) playing and singing chaabi music. I had had no idea about that music nor about the city itself, but I was enchanted and am still thinking about it. The music is absolutely beautiful (if you haven't already check it out) and these old people true artists. I don't know if it partly had to do with the camera, the director, or whatever, but the city has impressed me, it looks wonderful, flawed, true, but with soul, the kind of city that captivates you. I hope you enjoy Algiers and I am looking forward to seeing your photos.

lynn2mary said...

Sounds like you are enjoying your new environs.