The Story of Algerian Pastries and an Epiphany

The Story of Algerian Pastries and an Epiphany

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While Rachel Finn was living in Paris, she tasted Algerian pastries for the first time and her life was changed forever. “It was, without question, love at first bite,” she recalls. “An obsession was born. I visited pastry shops throughout Paris, sampling pastries including m’khebez, rzimette, maqrout, skandriate, and my very favorite, d’ziriate.” Rachel did a short apprentissage at her favorite bakery, La Bague de Kenza, which taught her as much about Algerian culture, cooking, and Islam as it did about baking.

Listen in as Rachel gives a brief overview of the history, culinary influences, and cultural significance of Algerian pastries, which are often linked to very specific holidays or family celebrations such as marriages and births. She’ll describe their immense popularity in France, where north African food has become part of modern French culinary heritage. It is a situation that has much in common with the other Afro-diasporic cuisines around the world that continue to transform culinary and cultural landscapes.

Rachel Finn is a freelance writer, editor, researcher, and the founder of Roots Cuisine, a nonprofit created to promote the foodways of the African diaspora around the globe. Her work has appeared in print and electronic publications including Gastronomica, the Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Weekly, and The Root. She has also written encyclopedia entries on the foodways of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone for ABC-CLIO’s Food Cultures of the World. She is working on a book about the food history and recipes of the global African diaspora. To learn more, visit her personal website at

Recorded Saturday, June 16, 2012 at Kendall College.