We are starting a new series on this blog – “A Taste of LATRO” – celebrating our colleagues from around the world, their cultures and their cuisines.
One of the core values that drives us here at LATRO is the ability to thrive in a multi-cultural global marketplace. When LATRO was birthed more than a decade ago, we had only two employees in the US. Today, we have over 40 employees across eight countries. This blog series will give you a glimpse into our diversity, which we see as one of our most valuable strengths as a company.
While we are all still confined to our homes to varying degrees because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Lead Analyst, Meghan Hardy-James, will take you along to meet with her various colleagues here at LATRO as they introduce her (and you!) to unique dishes in their kitchens. This #atasteoflatro journey will highlight our team members’ global backgrounds and traditional dishes. Grab an apron and enjoy!
Growing up in the suburbs of upstate New York, it was rare to run into anyone who did not match the 96% white American demographic of my hometown or who was not born in the United States. I remember in high school when my friend’s family hosted a foreign exchange student from Turkmenistan. My friends and I could not place his country on a map and were perplexed as to how to engage in conversation with him. We found ourselves asking, “What language does he speak? What is his family like? What does he do for fun? What food does he eat?”
Now, nearly a decade later, I gravitate towards individuals from unique cultures and am fascinated when I learn about their families, hobbies, and traditional homemade recipes. For me, the most exciting part about working for LATRO is the wide diversity of employees we have from across the globe. Today, the LATRO team is comprised of over a dozen different nationalities. Together we speak over 10 different languages and enjoy many delicious types of food from all over the world.
If you are like me, then you are feeling eager to begin international travel again once COVID-19 restrictions ease. In the meantime, join me as I explore a few of the unique cultures that make up LATRO and the mouthwatering recipes that are special to my colleagues.
Tanya Nedjam – French/Algerian
First up – meet Tanya! She has a unique blend of French and Algerian heritage. Both sets of her grandparents were born in Algeria, and on her father’s side, her grandparents were Spanish/French and Kabyle (Berber people from Algeria).
Tanya’s parents were also born in Algeria, and during this time the country was under French rule. They later moved to France and lived there for most of their lives. Tanya was born and raised in Lyon, France, but spends every summer in Algeria to enjoy time with her Algerian family.
Her dish of choice? Couscous! Tanya’s mother cooks this dish every week for Friday Prayer as well as for special celebrations/holidays. Interestingly enough, when Tanya was a child, she often hated it when her mother prepared couscous because she was sick of eating it so frequently. But after living abroad for several years, she now appreciates and enjoys every couscous meal her mother cooks.
Tanya’s multi-cultural upbringing inspired her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Applied Languages, where she studied English, Spanish, and Arabic, along with their associated civilizations and cultures. She then pursued a master’s degree and studied International Business. Tanya attributes her generosity, modesty, patience, and tolerance all to her parents and her Muslim upbringing. We are very proud to have Tanya on the LATRO team as a Pre-Sales & Business Development Associate and we can’t wait to try her mother’s famous couscous recipe for ourselves!
1kg medium semolina
3 garlic cloves
1 kg shoulder of lamb in pieces (or 1 chicken)
1 small can tomato paste
200g canned chickpeas
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon ras el hanout spices (Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric)
1 teaspoon paprika
1. Prep the semolina. According to the brand, either rinse it and let it dry or moisten it to make it swell. Then coat your hands with oil and roll the semolina so that it does not stick. Then let it rest.
2. In the meantime, prepare the couscous sauce:
Peel and chop the onions and garlic.
Heat the oil in a casserole dish and brown the pieces of meat. Add the onions and garlic and leave to brown for 5 minutes.
Then add the ras el hanout spices, salt, pepper, paprika, and tomato paste. Add 1 liter of water, cover it, and let it cook for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the carrots and turnips and wash the zucchini. Cut the vegetables into large cubes.
Once the ingredients in the casserole dish have cooked for 30 minutes, remove the meat and add the vegetables and chickpeas to cook for 30 minutes without covering.
3. Finish the semolina preparation
Fill the bottom half of the couscoussier with water (a special North African pot with a steamer on top) and let the water evaporate up through the couscoussier. If you don’t have a couscoussier, you can also use a universal steamer or a very large metal colander set over a stockpot. Just be sure the seal between the two is tight. After some time, you will see the steam rising and covering the entire surface of the semolina. Let it cook for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove and pour the semolina into a bowl, wet it with a little water and work gently with your hands.
Put the semolina back in the top of the couscoussier, after the steam has escaped. Leave it to cook for another 25 minutes and then remove.
Pour the semolina into a bowl and add a good piece of butter to the middle, then mix well.
Pour the semolina into a deep dish. Spread the meat and vegetables on top of the semolina and coat with the sauce. بصحتك
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