Cous-cous and cultural diplomacy

November 23, 2011

Andrea Wenzel

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(Courtesy of PRX)
Restauranteurs and partners Frederique and Brian pose with the namesake of their Iowa town, Emir Abd al-Qader.

We head to Iowa, to a town of 1,500 surrounded by corn and soybean farms.

Though it's more than one thousand miles from New York City, this town was uniquely impacted by the attacks of September 11, 2011. That's because the town's name is Elkader - it was named after Algerian independence fighter Emir Abd al Qader. It's also the only town in the entire United States named after an Arab Muslim.

Since its founding, Elkader, Iowa has drawn scores of people to explore its distinct Algerian character. But in the wake of 9/11, many locals wanted to change the town's name to something more American. In 'Couscous and Cultural Diplomacy,' Andrea Wenzel takes us to meet an openly gay couple who decided to start an Algerian-American restaurant in Elkader after 9/11. This story charts the restauranteurs' adventures with cultural adaptation, American identity and small town politics.

 

This documentary was produced and presented by Andrea Wenzel for WAMU/American University Radio. The story was provided to us by Public Radio Exchange.