The Story of Algerian Pastries and an Epiphany

Presented by
Rachel Finn,
Founder, Roots Cuisine

Podcast courtesy of WBEZ’s Chicago Amplified

When Rachel Finn was living in Paris several years ago, she tasted Algerian pastries for the first time; her life was changed forever. “It was, without question, love at first bite,” she recalled. “An obsession was born. I visited pastry shops throughout Paris, sampling pastries including m’khebez, rzimette, maqrout, skandriate, and my very favorites d’ziriate. After moving back to the States Rachel soon returned to France to do 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.

Please join us 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 will touch on their immense popularity in France, where northern 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 African Diaspora around the globe. Her work has appeared in print and electronic publications including Gastronomica, 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 currently working on a book on the food history and recipes of the global African Diaspora. Her personal website is

Program hosted at Kendall College.