#JeSuisHungryby Wendell Steavenson / April 21, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
The day I finished writing a novel about the us-and-them of our terrorist times, I went for a walk over to the other side of Montmartre, the back of the Butte, where the 18th arrondissement descends into an immigrant neighbourhood and wondery tourists are replaced by African and Maghrebi faces. I mingled among the market bustle, the piles of plantain and the bottles of orange palm oil. Traders hawked handbags and bunches of mint and there were flurries of activity when the police appeared. France is still under a state of emergency. As I sat in an Algerian cafe, I heard the news of the attacks in Brussels. Initial reports said 13 dead, but I knew the number was sure to rise.
#JeSuisHungry. I had an idea to go to Seville to explore the overlap of Moorish Andalus and Christian Spain. What was left from the last time our cultures spent several hundred years living together before they fell back onto the spikes of intolerance, forced conversion and expulsion?
Inadvertently, we arrived during Easter. Maundy Thursday lunchtime, a crowd gathered on the street outside a church next to a tapas bar. The men wore well-pressed grey suits and Easter egg coloured ties and expensive sunglasses. The women wore voluptuously tight black dresses, high heels and tall tortoiseshell hair combs draped with black lace mantillas. The harried waiters behind the ancient scuffed bar of the Casa Vizcaino pulled glasses of frothy Cruzcampo lager and distributed little plates of jamon. The floor was strewn with the husks of sunflower seeds.
“There isn’t much left over from the Moorish times in the local cuisine—apart from a few desserts,” Dimitris Kyriakou, my friend and a Greek economi…