Soul food: Mourad Mazouz on his childhood in Algeria

Date:11-05-2013 07:58:15 read:8

Soul food: Mourad Mazouz on his childhood in Algeria

The restaurateur Mourad Mazouz recalls the food he enjoyed as a child growing up in Algeria.

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Mourad Mazouz (centre), as a child 
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Soul food: Mourad Mazouz 

I come from a large Berber family who all lived together – aunties, uncles, cousins, almost 70 of us, in our main house, near Sidi-Aich in Algeria. Most of the cooking was done by the women in the large first-floor living-room (the animals lived underneath), though we children helped a bit, too. Every day we ate red peppers, either roasted or fresh and chopped. We children helped with the roast peppers, turning them over a flame in the open air, so the skins charred but did not burn.

I was the third of eight children (and the oldest boy) and when I was little my daily task was to walk behind my father and carry the shopping bags (he never helped) when he went to buy food. That was his role as the man of our family. My mother made all the cakes and she would get me to carry them, in three or four trays balanced on my head, to the local baker’s oven. I’d wait while they cooked, pay the baker and carry them home. But I could never resist stealing a few on the way – I loved cakes. Soon my mother learnt to count them before I set off.

Today our home in London is like a hotel. There are seven of us, but we always sit down to dinner – 14 people or more. Friends and family come to eat every day.

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