Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Algeria - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


Algeria is yet another African team in this year's World Cup. The Muslim nation on north coast of Africa borders many countries, the Mediterranean Sea, and contains a significant portion of the Sahara Desert. By land mass, Algeria is the 11th largest country in the world, and they have a population of 35.7 million. Today they square off against the U. S. of A. in a match where the winner has a chance of advancing and loser is guaranteed to go home. This is what the World Cup is all about. Pull those belts tight boys, it's time to rumble! Today Bite and Booze eats the Algerians!

Couscous, the national dish, is often mistaken as a grain itself, rather than pasta. The pasta dough is a mixture of water and coarse, grainy semolina wheat particles. The dough is then crumbled through a sieve to create tiny pellets. Algerians prefer lamb, chicken, or fish to be placed on a bed of warm couscous, along with cooked vegetables such as carrots, chickpeas, and tomatoes, and spicy stews. In Algeria it is also served, sometimes at the end of a meal or just by itself, as a delicacy called "seffa". The couscous is usually steamed several times until it is very fluffy and pale in color. It is then sprinkled with almonds, cinnamon and sugar. Traditionally, this dessert will be served with milk perfumed with orange flower water, or it can be served plain with buttermilk in a bowl as a cold light soup for supper.
Mechoui , a roasted whole lamb cooked on an outdoor spit, is usually prepared when a large group of people gathers together. The animal is seasoned with herb butter so the skin is crispy and the meat inside is tender and juicy. Bread and various dried fruits and vegetables, including dates (whose trees can thrive in the country's Sahara desert), often accompany mechoui. There really is nothing quite like eating whole spit-roasted animals. I wish it more customary in the United States than it is. Maybe I can start a trend!

Being a rather strict Muslim nation, Algeria is not home to an abundant drinking culture. Still, there is no mistaking the Algerian impact on wine. While not a significant force on the world's wine market today, Algeria has played an important role in the history of wine. Algeria's viticulturalhistory dates back to its settlement by the Phoenicians and continued under Algeria's rule by
the Roman empire. Just prior to the Algerian War of Independence, Algerian wine (along with the production of Morocco and Tunisia) accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total international wine trade. With as much land under vine as the countries of Germany and South Africa, Algeria continues to maintain a wine industry with over 70 wineries in operation. During the peak of Algerian wine production, the main grapes of the region was Carignan, Cinsaut and Alicante Bouschet. Despite not having Pinot noir or otherwise resembling Burgundian wine, blends of these grapes were often labeled as burgundy. In recent times, Clairette and Ugni blanc have become the dominate grape varieties with some smaller plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Mouvedre and Syrah. Algerian wines are characterized by their overripe fruit, high alcohol and lowacidity. The grapes often go through a short fermentation process and are bottled after little to no oak aging.

For info about Algerian Beer, visit the BR Beer Scene.

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