How to create a real melting pot
Elbrich Fennema | December 2011 Issue
If the playwright Israel Zangwill had been familiar with the Moroccan kitchen, he might have given his 1908 play about an assimilated society a title other than “The Melting Pot.” The term doesn’t reflect the utopian values for which Zangwill stood. In a melting pot, foam (also known as “scum”) floats to the top. The connotations of that—rabble, mobs, disorder—were probably not what Zangwill intended. He could have avoided all of that if he had chosen a different metaphor: the Moroccan pot known as the “tagine.” Time is the only thing this Moroccan melting pot needs to fuse everything you put into it.
The possible variations are endless. If you don’t have a tagine, a heavy pan with a lid that closes tightly will also work. Pour a little oil into the pan and add what you have in the fridge in layers: pieces of tomato, slices of onion, chunks of potato, cauliflower florets, finely sliced fennel, raisins, sardines, apricots, almonds. Add herbs to taste. If you want to maintain the Moroccan theme, choose coriander, ginger, parsley, cumin and cinnamon. Add some vegetable broth, a pinch of salt or a little more cinnamon. Slowly bring it all to a simmer, put the lid on the pan and leave it there for an hour and a half to two hours. Serve this masterpiece with a fluffy couscous and, of course, with hot flatbread, so you can soak up the exotic juices on your plate.