For the Jewish holidays, Martha Rose Shulman offers five new couscous dishes inspired by her time in Provence. She writes:
When I was researching my book “Provençal Light,” I went to Yom Kippur services at the Orthodox synagogue in Avignon for purely secular reasons: I wanted to sit upstairs with the women and eavesdrop on their discussions about what they had cooked for the meal to break the fast. If I was lucky, I would strike up a conversation and perhaps get an invitation to dinner. As it turned out, I was successful on both counts.
Many of the French Jews who live in the South of France are the so-called pieds noirs, French who lived in the former French colonies in North Africa, Algeria in particular, before the colonies gained independence. When they returned to France they chose to live in the south, on the other shore of the Mediterranean. They brought many North African dishes back with them, so I was not surprised to hear talk of various couscous preparations that had been made ahead for Yom Kippur.