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Couscous is an Arab dish that Moses and Jacobs descendants spread
throughout the world during their wanderings. Who can say how many
modifications it has undergone? It is presently used as a soup by Italian
Jews, two of whom were kind enough to let me try it and see how it is
prepared. I have since made it in my own kitchen, and can therefore guarantee
its authenticity, though I cannot guarantee my being understood:

Che non i impresa da pigliar a gabbo
Descriver bene questo grande intruglio
Ni da lingua che chiami mamma e babbo.
[Its not a task to be taken lightly,
The description of this great hodgepodge,
Nor to be undertaken by infants who still cry mamma or papa . (Dante's

The following quantities will serve six or seven people:
1 2/3 pounds breast of veal
6 ounces lean boned veal
3 1/3 cups coarse grained semolina
1 chicken liver, minced
1 hard boiled egg, diced
1 yolk
1 large onion, diced
Various greens, such as savoy cabbage, onions, celery, carrots, spinach, and
beet greens, julienned.

Set the semolina in a low sided, extremely wide vessel made of either
terracotta or tinned copper. Season it with salt and pepper and slowly
sprinkle it with 1/3 cup of water, spreading it around with the palm of your
hand till the grains expand and separate. Once youUve added the water, add a
tablespoon of oil in the same manner; it should take about a half hour to
complete the two operations. Once the semolina is prepared, put it in a soup
bowl and cover it with a cloth. Fold the excess fabric under the plate and
tie it tightly with a string.

Boil the breast of veal in three quarts of water, so as to make broth, and,
once youUve skimmed the pot, lower the heat and cover it with the bowl of
semolina. Make sure there's some space between the broth and the bottom of
the bowl, but also make sure that the bowl forms a tight seal, so that no
vapor escapes (if you have a double boiler large enough, it will work well
here). Steam the semolina like this for an hour and a quarter; when its half
cooked, stir the semolina and retie the cloth.

Using a knife, mince the 6 ounces of veal, add to it some about two
tablespoons of bread crumbs, and season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Divide the mixture into meat balls about the size of a hazelnut and fry them
in oil. Remove them when they are done, three to five minutes.
Saute the onion in the oil first, and when it has turned translucent, add the
remaining vegetables, season them with salt and pepper, stir them, and cook
them until they reabsorb the water they give off. Once they are almost dry,
dampen them either with meat sauce or broth and tomato sauce or paste, and
cook them till done, adding the chicken liver and the meat balls.
Remove the semolina from the bowl, set it in a pot over a low flame, and,
without letting it come to a boil, stir in the egg yolk and some of the sauce
from the vegetables. Mix well and transfer the semolina to a platter. It
should be almost dry, so that it forms a mound, which you will decorate with
the pieces of hard boiled egg. Mix the rest of the vegetables into the broth.
Divvy the broth into as many bowls as there you have guests, and serve it
with the semolina. In other words, each diner spoons some of the semolina
onto his plate, and drinks the broth with a spoon while eating the semolina.

Serve the breast of veal later as boiled dinner.


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