Flavors of North Africa

Illustration By Mark Stivers

When I was in Paris a few years ago, I repeatedly visited La Mosquée, the large mosque in the Latin Quarter—not out of any devotional purpose, but because its hammam (Turkish steam bath) was so relaxing and the couscous dishes in its restaurant was so delicious. My favorite there was merguez, a piquant North African–style fresh-lamb sausage that’s hard to find in the United States. Indeed, I’d never seen it in Sacramento until a few weeks ago at Whole Foods, where they make it (there, they spell it mergeza) in-house. I took home a few links and roasted them with onions to serve over couscous. With a spicy kick underlying the lamb’s mild gaminess, they were as delicious as I remembered, especially with a bit of the Tunisian-made harissa (North African chili paste) that I also picked up at Whole Foods. As good as La Mosquée’s? I’ll have to return to Paris and report back. Whole Foods, 4315 Arden Way, (916) 488-2800.