Couscous has come into my life from all directions. It even felt like it was falling from the sky yesterday morning and pelting against my face, but that was tiny hail.
My maternal Grandmother was from Algeria, where couscous reigns supreme. Her father came to the United States and tried to start a Couscous factory. It was in New York and I always picture it as some dark wooden room with big hulking oily shifting machines turning out a shower of delicate fine golden granules. But whatever it looked like, the couscous factory failed. It was ahead of its time I believe.
In college my friend and I were in an advertising class and we were able to pick the product for our campaign, she picked Near East, which is a brand that makes couscous. I remember sitting on the floor of my dorm room trying to come up with something that rhymed with couscous, its already a cute and funny sounding word as if a rhyme was the only viable solution. My friend said “couscous caboose!” in a eureka moment, and in that late hour it was the funniest thing I had heard in a long time. Our laugh was like a long train that just kept rushing by, car after car of endless quaking motion.
But couscous is far from a joke for me, my mother often made it at home and when I make it for dinner now it comforts me in its starchy familiarity. It makes me feel like I am taking good care of myself, like my particular metabolism was made to process this fine food. And I think about my Great Great Grandfather and how he would have been pleased that I am still living off of this seminal semolina.