The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

May 3, 2015

In Prison

In Tahar Ben Jelloun's deeply moving and anguished This Blinding Absence of Light, a prison inmate obsesses about all the dishes he'd make for his mother when he gets out.

"Mama," he said another day, "I didn't find any meat or vegetables in the market this morning. The market is gone. It's been moved. I got out my bike, but kids had let the air out of the tires. All I found were starchy things: white beans, chickpeas, dried fava beans. The bread is stale, hard, it has to be soaked in water or it's inedible. You tell me you're not hungry. You're right. Me neither - I'm never hungry anymore. I no longer feel like cooking now. You think you'd like some grilled sardines sprinkled with onions and parsley. That's a good idea. But it's oily, Mama. You'll get heartburn. No, I'd suggest boiled mackerel with a few potatoes. No - not boiled: in a tanjia, with tomatoes, onions, a sauce with cumin, red pepper, a bit spicy, with some coriander, a few garlic cloves, and you let it simmer over a low flame…"


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