When I was in the second grade I had a friend with a Buddhist mother who served him couscous as an after school snack. It had a funny name and looked a lot like rice but didn’t taste at all like rice, so I didn’t like it. Having long since outgrown this youthful prejudice, this weekend’s First Annual Couscous Festival is looking mighty interesting. The brainchild of chef Farid Zadi and the rest of the Ecole de Cuisine Pasadena, the Festival is a celebration of North African and Mediterranean cuisines, with lectures and demonstrations from Paula Wolfert, Faye Levy, Clifford Wright, Charles Perry, and of course Zadi.
The $20 ticket includes $15 in food coupons to sample a variety of North African, Spanish, and Mediterranean treats: lamb mechoui, seafood escabeche, Algerian pizzas, tagines and, of course, couscous. Be aware, however, that each day the festival is broken up into two discrete time blocks—11 to 2:30, and 3:30 to 7—and that your ticket admits you to only one time block. The schedule for Saturday can be found here, Sunday here.
The First Annual Couscous Festival
Sat. – Sun., October 16 – 17, 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 3:30 – 7 p.m.
Chefs Center, Ecole de Cuisine Pasadena
45 N. San Gabriel Blvd., Pasadena
$20 for 4.5 hours; couscousfestival.com