Situated in the northern tip of Africa, Tunisia may be small in land, but has enough history and culture to pack a country much bigger in size. That blend of culture manifests itself in the sheer amount of food available. From Mediterranean, to French, to Arabic and many others, the diversity in the food available is mind blowing. It’s not all about Carthage and El Djem when on a Tunisia holiday. Here’s a guide to eating your way around this country:
Two things to keep in mind for eating in Tunisia: the food is very cheap and there’s meat in almost everything, so vegetarians will have a hard time. That being said, Tunisians love to start off a meal with a light appetizer. Harissa is a common dish that is often served without ordering. This reddish paste, decorated with green olives, is said to aid digestion by increasing the acidity of the stomach. Be wary though, as this paste is spicy with a capital S. Other popular appetizers include lablabi (chickpea soup), brik a l’oeuf (eggs, tuna, and other veggies in a small pastry), and Tajine (baked casserole of egg, meat and spices).
There’s no better place to start than with couscous, the most popular of all Tunisian dishes. A plate of couscous (steam cooked semolina grains) topped with vegetables and usually lamb, although toppings vary place by place. Another popular dish is Kamounia, a beef stew served with fried onions and cumin seeds.
A Tunisian food experience wouldn’t be complete without a taste of seafood. The country is home to some of the freshest, most varied seafood you can taste. In many restaurants, they’ll grill a whole fish, with lemon and pepper added, and serve it as a main course. While the fish vary, the most common are Sea Bream, European Sea Bass, and Red Mullet. For more exotic dishes, try the stuffed cuttlefish, grilled octopus, and poisson complet.
The influence of the Turkish and French are most easily found in the desserts produced in Tunisia. There’s the French choux pastry (pastry with chocolate syrup on top) or a Turkish delight (confections based on a gel of starch and sugar). For more local sweets, Oudnin el-kadhi stands out. A cake made out of different nuts and filled with honey, it’s sure to satiate any sweet tooth.
As you can see, Tunisia is not just a sun and fun holiday. You can try all sorts of delicious delicacies, all while keeping your wallet full.