I love cous cous, ever since I had some lemony-herby-buttery loveliness in France one time. I’ve been trying to recreate the recipe ever since and never quite got it right, but often got close.
I tried giving my first child cous cous as a baby, and she was unimpressed, so I haven’t fed it to the other children. Today, however, I ran out of bread and instant noodles, so we were stumped for lunch til I spotted an unopened box of cous cous in the cupboard.
I asked the kids if they wanted to try it. Mapera asked what is was, so I said “it’s like pasta, but smaller” because she would fight off hordes of Mongolian invaders if there was pasta involved.
I cooked it with chicken stock, lemon juice and butter. I say cooked, but those of you who have made cous cous know it’s more of a soak than a cook. I gave the kids a bowl and a spoon and waited for the scrunched faces that indicated disapproval.
Much to my surprise, they loved it and asked for more. Even the baby (who is very texture-driven) abandoned the spoon and plunged his hands into the bowl in order to shovel more of the nutty gorgeousness into his mouth.
I realised my error in offering cous cous to a child who has not yet mastered the skills of accurate spoon control when I lifted him out of his highchair after lunch. A cascade of cous cous poured off his lap as if he were a leaky bean-bag, and scattered across the floor.
If anyone has ever managed to sweep cous cous off a vinyl floor, then they are a more skilled sweeper than I, as I found that no matter the angle of the brush, or the pressure of the sweeping action, the little beads of cous cous bounced in precisely the opposite direction from the way I was trying to corral them.
I felt like that bit of foil scientists bounce atoms off to prove the existence of sub-atomic particles, except I don’t think the scientists have to contend with a toddler determinedly marching through the small pile of quarks they managed to herd into a corner.
I resorted to vacuuming the entire floor, along with the dining room table, chairs, high-chair and parts of the baby in order to get rid of the cous cous.
I am sure when I change his nappy later I will need safety goggles to protect myself from the inevitable pasta-particle explosion.