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Friday, 26 July 2013

Food of Tunisia

I am enjoying this years summer holiday sunny Tunisia.  This is not the first time I have visited North Africa - trips to Cairo, Luxor and Sharm el Shake have already introduced me to the wide range of foods from this area and the odd tummy bugs that comes with them.  My hotel is only half board but this means I get to enjoy a wide range of breakfast and dinner food items.  Being mostly buffet style I am excited that this will give me maximin opportunity to try a range of different things.  Since my hotel has WIFI I am able to sample, report back and post articles while I am here.  This is the first of who knows how many mini blog posts about the range of food I have eaten while I am here.  I will write about the food I try at the hotel, local area and when on day trips, further afield.

Early drafts of my posts my be limited with terminology - I am not sure how much time I will give to researching posts against sunbathing by the pool, but I intend to 'jazz' up my posts on return so it will just depend on if you are reading this while I am there or a few months after I get back.

I should point out that my trip overlaps with the religious holiday of Ramadan and therefor 98% of the Tunisian  population (the muslim percentage) are fasting during the day and only eating/drinking/smoking and 'all the rest' when the sun sets at night until it raises in the morning.   At first this has made me feel strange - ordering food and consuming it in front of people who are not allowed to eat themselves. But over time I soon became accustomed to their ways and it has not restricted what I am eating and doing.  It is interesting to see though, as soon as the sun sets, around 7:45pm everyone - taxis, hotel staff and general public stop what they are doing to rush off somewhere eat and drink.  I watched as the waiter serving us nipped off to sit down with the other waiters to eat or the hotel reception staff eating in the back even though there are people waiting.  It must be extremely challenging to last the whole day in this heat without eating or drinking a thing.  I might be able to manage with no food but no water would be very difficult to do.

My hope is I will be inspired to recreate some items I have sampled here when I get back home - thats the plan anyway.

So, here is mini post number 1....  the first few days.

Well my first meal in Tunisia was burger and chips!  I know, not the best of starts.  I normally would simply leave this part of the post as it is - I ate a burger!  But I thought I would briefly mention that although it was only a burger I have already noticed the flavours of Africa creeping in.  My burger tasted strange, but not in a bad way, in a slightly spiced sort of way.  The beef seemed to be flavoured with simple spices, nothing too over the top that would put a person who does not like spices off, but in a light hint of something extra way.  Combined with the cheese and large of amounts of mayo they insist in spreading on, this was a nice quick meal that filled a hole after my 3am start that day.

My hotel is one of those that serves a wide range of interesting items but does not seem to label them well, or in fact not at all.  Some items I can guess what they are by looking, some do have the odd label, but many things are interestingly new to me.  I am the sort of person that gives pretty much anything ago so I must apologies for the state of my plate loads of food in the photos here.  My plate often ends up be a mixture of everything...some nice...some not.  Here goes a brief description of some of the items that seemed interesting.

Starting with a pudding.  This is best described as a custard tart without the pasty.   With a slight flavouring of hazelnut from the crunchy topping I quite enjoyed this custardy dessert.  This is something I could replicate quite easily back home.  

Evening meal, at a local restaurant, consisted of chicken kebabs, rice, chips and salad.  Yes, all on one plate and this was the meal.  The chicken kebab was very nice, sorry no photo, and was simply cooked on the BBQ and tasted of lime with light spices.  Very simple, but nice.  The rice was basic plain rice and the chips were rather overcooked and more like crunchy crisps in parts!  I keep seeing salads over here served with lime and orange segments, it seems to be the norm.  While eating my chicken kebab I did have to remove the odd bit of lime skin from my mouth.  The image shown was taken at the start of the meal and the dips where relatively basic - garlic mayo, red hot paste, something with cheese in, thousand island and finally olives (which I don't like, tired and still don't like)  

So far I have not sampled anything I would consider to be true Tunisian, next post hopefully...