Today my father in law came over to our house for lunch. He originally wanted to go out to eat couscous and lamb in a restaurant he had heard of, but when he tried to make a reservation it was closed.
My father in law grew up in Libya, a country we have heard of so much lately in the news, back in the day when it was an Italian colony. I love hearing stories of his years there, before the new regime confiscated everything they owned, of how he lived as a child on acres and acres of farm land to later move to Tripoli, then a bustling, cosmopolitan city, to finish his schooling and attend University.
His parents had tried and failed to become parents several times before he was born and he came very late for the standards of those days. I wonder what it must have been like for his mother to live so far away from her family in Sicily and how lonely it must have been there without children to rear for so many years. I like to imagine the pride and joy she must have felt when she took a ship back to her hometown (the baby must be born in Italy!) to finally give birth to a healthy little boy, sorrounded by clucking sisters, aunts, cousins.
Despite being born in Sicily and living in Italy for most of his adult life, my father in law grew up speaking Arabic and soaking up the culture of his surroundings. To this day couscous and lamb stew are his comfort food.
How could I deny him this pleasure?
The ripe and juicy pomegranate I had bought last week as a part of my centerpiece for another dinner inspired me to look up recipes that included it. This recipe turned out to be the perfect combination of a fruity, fresh couscous and a fall-off-the-bone tender, fatty lamb cooked in a tomato-based stew filled with the warm flavors of North African cuisine.
Recipe adapted from BBC Food Recipes