I have heard various and many stories about time travelling, but none of them could compare to the places food flavors could bring you back to. Whether it is a picnic with a bunch of friends, a family gathering or a date, there is always a taste that is somehow linked to a certain occasion; just like a fragrance effect. That’s how my native cuisine works.
In Tunisia, when you name a dish, you generally name a certain region; they go together like a wink and a smile. Even though you can find a “Kafteji” everywhere in the country, you’ll never taste a better “Kafteji” than the one you eat in “Kairaouan.” Whether in a sandwich or in a plate, a mixture of fried vegetables can work wonders. The one secret that makes of Kairaouan the town of Kafteji is the way the ingredients are cooked. The green peppers, must be chopped into tiny pieces, you can even mash them using a mortar and a pestle, and then fry them. The same exact thing is done with the tomatoes, pumpkin, and potatoes. The eggs are somehow chopped into very tiny pieces that you can hardly realize that the dish contains them. Once you go out to take a walk, you’ll find a hard time fighting the Kafteji’s flavors travelling the whole alleys and streets, so good luck deciding which fast food you’re going to buy your Kafteji from; they are everywhere, and as many as the bakers making “Makroud.”
Makroud is a very very delicious type of pastry which reputation goes beyond Kairaouan county lines. We make them everywhere, yet, the best recipes remain those of our grandmothers; they are way more delicious than those we usually buy. The traditional Makroud is made with fine wheat semolina, extra virgin olive oil and the best dates of the season. Well, a piece of Makroud, with a cup of Arabic coffee, can really make you feel as if the world stopped turning for a while.
Leaving the northern inland, you can visit the coastal land, for instance, “The Sahel”. The Sahel is mostly known by the outstanding quality of its olive oil, and the latter is used in all recipes, indeed. When it comes to the cuisine, the Sahel is very known by its delicious “Khobbiza”, or the mallow leaves dish. However, it is way more than just a simple dish, it is a journey. Usually the father would go and take the children with him to harvest the mallow leaves from the field. The mother would call her friends to come and help with the chopping, and of course giggles, tea, coffee, pastries, gossip and so much fun come along with it. They can spend the whole afternoon chopping the mallow leaves as finely as it could get. The cooking, on the other hand, would usually start the next day in the morning. Before sitting on the table, the children would go knock on the doors of each one that came and helped, and hand them a plate of Khobbiza.
I could spend days talking about every region and the delicious food they make. From the famous “fish sauce” of Sfax, to the delicious snails decorating a plate of couscous or floating on their sauce, in the north, or the “Mtabga” in the south; you can travel places with every bite.
Loved this blog, added Tunisia to my bucket list of "countries to travel"
Tunisia is very near to Italy. Can I order pizza from Italy in Tunisia???? Please reply
Hey, Zenchef.... Thanks a lot for this very interesting teaser on Tunisian cuisine, I had never thought that a small country like Tunisia could have this much exotic cuisine, I am very curious about Tunisian cuisine now. Hoping that you will publish more such amazing articles. I just started following you also.
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