In Morocco, Laurama and John Pixton present a shipment from AFSC to Lt. Cmdr. Philip Talbott and Cmdr. Donald L. Gex. Taken in 1961.Photo: AFSC
Laurama, second from right, with Pitsunda seminar participants in 1970.Photo: AFSC
Laurama Pixton and her husband John lived in Morocco from 1960-61, where they worked with Algerian refugees. For AFSC's 1967 cookbook, "Meals from many lands," she shared this menu for an Algerian dinner for six people.
[Her recipe for Algerian bread has been reprinted in AFSC's 2013 cookbook, "Peaceful eats," which is now available to download for free.]
Laurama explained how, during her time in Morocco in the early 1960s, she saw Algerian families prepare meals:
In Algeria cooking is a time-consuming business. Marketing must be done each day at the open stalls in the market place, with careful bargaining for each item. Food purchased is carried home in woven baskets, and carefully washed under the one faucet which brings water into the house. The Algerian housewife prepares the food at a low table, squatting on the floor and working deftly.
Bread must be made each day and sent down to the public oven to be baked. Usually the children have the job of carrying the loaves of bread down to the oven, and then returning to claim them, looking for their family's identifying mark on the bread which will distinguish it from the others .
Cooking in the house is done on a charcoal brazier which sits out in the courtyard. A few clay pots and wooden spoons serve as utensils. Generally there is an aged grandmother or a young daughter who will tend the cooking, stirring as needed.
The main staple in the Algerian diet is cous cous. This is a semolina type wheat which is steamed in a woven basket over the charcoal, and is the basic part of each meal. The family sit around the low table, and dip their fingers into the large platter of couscous, and pick up the vegetables and meat pieces with pieces of bread.
Since the family eats from a joint plate and use their fingers , washing up the dishes is a simple matter , and generally the oldest daughter has the job of washing the platter under the faucet, and laying it in the sun to dry.
Dinner for six
- *Tagine (Lamb with raisins and prunes)
- Boiled rice
- Buttered zucchini
- Leaves of lettuce
- *Algerian Bread
- *Harreesat El Lauze (Algerian Almond Cake)
Preparation time: 2 hours
- 2 pounds lamb, cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 onion, whole
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Pinch of saffron
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 pound white raisins
- 1/2 pound prunes
Soak the prunes for 1/2 hour in warm water.
Cut the lamb into 1/2" squares and brown in oil. Cover with water. Add salt, onion (whole but peeled), butter, saffron, and cinnamon. Simmer 1 hour or until meat is tender. Add raisins and prunes, and continue cooking over low fire about 20 minutes.
Serve with rice.
- 1 cake (or 1 envelope)
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 2 pounds unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
Dissolve yeast in water. Mix with flour and salt. Add just enough water to make a stiff dough. At first it will be sticky. Knead until it is rubbery enough to spring back. Let rise for an hour.
Preheat oven to 450 F. Roll two balls into circles 8" in diameter. Prick and bake on flat pans (cookie sheets may be used) until loaves are brown and puffy. Cut in wedges.
Harreesat el Louze
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2/3 cup butter or
- Margarine (at room temperature)
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Egg whites
- 12 ounces almonds (8 ounces
- Chopped, 4 ounces whole)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix 2 cups of the sugar with the water and bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly. Add lemon juice and simmer until mixture thickens just a little. Remove syrup from heat and set aside. In a large bowl put butter or margarine (at room temperature); add remaining sugar (1 cup) a little at a time. Beat until creamy white. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add to mixture and blend thoroughly. Add chopped almonds and beat until well mixed. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into batter. Pour into well-buttered baking pans, 8" or 9", square or round. Decorate top of cake with whole almonds arranged in geometric design.
Bake in preheated oven (350 F ) about 15 minutes . Lower heat to about 250 F and continue baking until crust is thick and golden brown (about 20 minutes more). Remove from oven and pour syrup evenly over cakes. Do not serve for at least two hours. This cake will keep for several days.