San Vito, capital of all couscous

San Vito, capital of all couscous
San Vito lo Capo is not exactly what one could call a metropolis and when six years years ago, the small sicilian village publicised the first edition of the «Couscous Fest», the news was more interesting for its anecdoctical side...A festival and an international competition of the best couscous was indeed a funny event...Today the Festival in figures it’s: 100.000 visitors, 10,000 tickets sold, 5,000 liters of Sicilian wine, 70 accredited journalists, 10 national and satellite tv crews, 30 types of cooking, 40,000 portions of sicilian cakes, 200 liters of extra virgin olive oil, 8 countries coming from 3 continents, 50,000 acces per year to the internet site with more than 40 countries, counting among them, Japan, Philippines, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chili, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the Seychelles!
When the competition closed on the 25th of September, the press coverage had been already amazing, a full article on French Le Monde, a dossier by International Herald Tribune..The jury, composed of journalists, opinion makers and food and wine experts have awarded the best couscous award to Algerian Chefs Sidali Lahlou et Thouria Chab.

Couscous – a mixture of semolina flour and, more importantly, of culture – is the idea behind the San Vito event, where every year the best chefs from around the world gather together and compete over the hob.

Cous Cous from around the world
A great deal of love and care goes into the ancient tradition of couscous making called the “ncocciata”. This is the stage when the semolina flour is rolled and rubbed and worked into couscous; a process which calls to mind the tides of history slowly mixing the habits and traditions of the Maghrib people. Maftoul, kseksou, cuscus, cuscussù, cascasa, sekso, kskso, kuskus, burgul, tabouleh…
San Vito, capital of all couscous
From Africa to Sicily, Europe to South America – couscous has travelled and continues to travel in the hearts and traditions of emigrant people. Today, it is one of the foremost examples of “glocal” (globalized food) which has travelled more than other types, but has also, like a cameleon, adapted entirely to the local cuisine. On the Ivory Coast they have added manioc, in San Paolo, Brazil, you will find palm hearts and in Morocco smen and cinnamon.
The word tolerance seems to encapsulate this concept, that couscous has not taken over the local culinary customs but rather has been absorbed to become a local delicacy - perhaps an example to us all, today more than ever.
Couscous – somewhere between legend and reality
Legend has it that King Solomon fell hopelessly in love with the Queen of Sheba. In his torment and sleepless nights he grew weak. The royal physician was called before the king and promised to make him an expert mixture of durum wheat semolina and vegetable juices. The king quickly got his strength back and could reign in peace thereafter.
This is how cous cous came to be, according to legend, bringing together two important words – love and peace – making it more than just a simple food dish.
Catherine Cornet

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