Couscous has in recent years appeared in restaurants that aren't North African at all. Most of what appears on the plate is what's known as Israeli couscous, which is really little pearl pasta. I'm not fond of it, having begun my couscous adventures with a friend who'd lived in Libya years ago. The newer iteration of it reminds me of the bubbles in boba tea, chewy and slightly odd when one's expecting a much smaller and differently textured material. Couscous, to me, is not unlike polenta in that it provides a superb base for moist stews, indeed, better than polenta (as much as I like it) because its texture allows the juices to sink in rather than pool on top. And, yes, couscous salads, too, but I'm not quite as cranky about the Israeli stuff there.
That rant is the opening to a discovery I made yesterday. Starr's, known for its wine, has markedly expanded their specialty foods line, along with weekends-only seafood. And there on the shelf was hand-rolled couscous, the way it's traditionally made. Imported from Tunisia, it cries out for something wonderful to go on top of it. The word "couscous" also refers to the stew it's traditionally steamed over (you won't need to worry about doing that), and with the farmers' market season arriving, the options are wide open, including some great vegetarian recipes out there. Or consider a tagine with it.
Two styles, with and without peppers, 500 grams, a little over a pound. $7.99.
1135 S. Big Bend Blvd, Richmond Heights