North Africa


Food, Glorious Food

Tunisia has its national dishes just like England has its Fish & Chips, but it's too easy to get bogged down by the "typical Tunisian cuisine" mindset; it has a multitude of dishes to try out.

Couscous (semolina grains, wheat derivative) is used extensively, mainly, it would seem, in lieu of rice. This is because it is cheap, easy to use and not too bad tasting.

Another common snack food found is a brik, which is a pancake-sized filo pastry, with an raw egg in the middle with perhaps a little lamb, parsley and spinach, then deep fried. It is very light and when sprinkled with a bit of lemon juice tastes very nice. Costs maybe 1 dinar (50 pence)

On the street, apart from barrows selling the aforementioned briks, you can also get hot ring doughnuts for about 25 pence each (50 cents US). They are simple batter doughnuts dipped in sugar and taste lovely out of all proportion to what they actually are! You can also get salted bread sticks (like those found on some European restaurant tables) for about 10 pence each. We tried these and did not go back for seconds.

Pizza is available everywhere, as are French fries. One thing we found is that sometimes the food had a definite fishy background flavour even if fish was not part of the ingredients. We think we traced this back to the (olive) oil being used in many dishes. Perhaps they added a bit of the ubiquitous tuna oil for "flavour". Whatever, if you don't like fish then you may be a bit wary of some of the dishes (and a bit hungry).

Kebabs are also widely available although we could only find chicken ones. They put the meat with a bit of hot sauce and chips onto (not into) a round pita bread and rollout it all up like a carpet. My daughter liked them but I could take them or leave them.

Desserts are one of a kind in Tunisia: very, very sweet. Whether it be pastries or cakes or marzipan sweets, they were all sickly sweet. One or two was more than sufficient. Younger children will probably like them more than adults, I reckon.

Our hotel food was excellent. We had buffet breakfast and dinner as part of our package and the choice was very wide, with a large cut salad selection (tomatoes, onions, peppers, lettuce etc), rice, couscous, any number of different meats (mainly beef, turkey and chicken) in various sauces or just plain. We could also get made to order omelettes or fried eggs which they cooked whilst you waited. I succumbed more than once to double fried egg on chips! In the evening you could also have ice cream and a huge selection of those sweet sticky pastries. Whilst the concept of a vegetarian is unknown to them, it was quite possible to eat all meals with no meat, just substituting roast peppers or tomatoes, for example: one of the benefits of a buffet restaurant.

Beer is good in Tunisia: the local Celtia or Stella (no, not Artois) brews are quite tangy; local wine could be had for 11 Dinar a bottle (about 6 pounds) in the restaurant and was of good quality; they export their wine to France, Germany and Italy. The astute amongst you may have noticed that Britain doesn't get a look in, so don't expect Tesco to be stocking any Tunisian wine in the near future! However on one of our trips we visited a vineyard and bought similar wine for just 7 Dinar a bottle. More: