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OUT OF AFRICA

Most entrees come with saffron rice or couscous; for my money, the couscous is a better choice. Made of semolina flour ground to a smaller grain than I've seen before, the couscous was just dry enough to take on the liquids of the meats and vegetables. The saffron rice, on the other hand, lacked both saffron flavor and color; the high price of the spice usually dictates against it being used well in this country. (Not so in Morocco, where saffron grows in abundance and is used extensively for cooking, medicine and dyes.)

The portions were so generous that we were unable to finish our entrees; fortunately, La Casbah is happy to send leftovers home with you. We had ours packaged up as we awaited the finale: another hand-washing, followed by a splash of rose- and orange-blossom waters that our waiter encouraged us to pat on our faces. Then individual cakes of baklava, not too sticky-sweet, were served, along with mint-steeped tea to aid the digestion. What a meal! Casbah on, dudes.

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