Sunday, January 31, 2010

One Man's Meat

Reading: Ommok Sannafa

In the lovely introduction to this book we read:

"It behooves us first to preserve from national forgetting this part of our national heritage, the fruit of long experience transmitted from generation to generation through the centuries. The culinary art of a nation forms a part of the history of its inhabitants, and our cuisine, at the same level as traditional art, music, or folk dance, affirms our national personality."

Speeches like this puff up the soul, eh, eh?

So let us preserve from forgetting Quadid Ghanmi (Confit de Mouton, or Lamb Confit,), joy of the Berber, perhaps first on my list of things to cook when I return.

Fine Salt
Fat Salt (which means large grained, but the phrase fat salt is so beautiful I think.)
Olive oil
Dried Garlic
Dried Mint (menthe sechée, also a lovely phrase. Try it out loud or something.)

Cut two large branches of dried mint, pull the leaves, rub them between your hands and then pulverise the leaves with a mortar and pestle. Pass them through a fine seive. Top and tail the garlic and crush them in a mortar and pestle with large pinches of fat salt. Mix mint and salted garlic well.

With two very sharp knives cut the meat in long strips, without the fat, and annoint them generously with half of the fine salt and the ground condiments. Take care that the spices penetrate all of the small crevasses of the meat to give the Quadid the best possible taste, and also to ensure preservation. Place the meat in a large basin and sprinkle well with cool water. Leave it to macerate for at least 24 hours, without forgetting to moisten from time to time.

Two days later remove the meat from the basin and massage generously with harissa and the rest of the fine salt and ground condiments. Leave them in the sun, tied with cord in one long line, for many days. Once the outside has dried sufficiently, but the inside is still tender and moist, cut the meat in pieces and leave to the side.

Cut the liya* in small pieces. Heat oil over a fire in an enormous pot, and add pieces of liya. Once the liya has melted pass the oil and fats through a sieve and place again over the fire. Plunge the bits of meat into boiling oil for about twenty minutes. Take from the fire. Pour everything into a clay pot and cover.

Quadid, well prepared, can last for many months.

*to know more about liya look for a post on liya. Right now it must remain a mystery to you, as it was a mystery to me. For a long, uncomfortable while.

Also, I reserved the right to translate literally when I loved the phrases to much to do otherwise, and to translate the essence of the phrase when it seemed right to me. There is some (occasionally violent) romance in literally translated language, particularly when it comes to food, and I can never bring myself to entirely give that up.

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