Around the World in 80 Plates, Recipes

Around the World in 80 Plates: Tunisia

Welcome to the northernmost country on the African continent: Tunisia! It is directly south of Italy, across the Mediterranean Sea, and is in between Algeria and Libya. People have lived here for a really really long time; since about the 10th century BC, but much of the information on the city then is only written accounts by ancient Greeks and Romans, rather that real residents of Ancient Carthage so it’s not as accurate as researchers would like. You can still visit some of the ruins of Ancient Carthage. Arabic is currently the official language of Tunisia, but many of the schools, media, and businesses use French, which has no language designation.

This North African country has thousands of years of history, and their recipes that have been around nearly as long! The culture of Tunisia is very mixed due to its long established history of outside influence from people such as Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Siculo-Normans, Turks, Italians, Maltese, Spanish, and the French, who all left their mark on the country.1 Food here is influenced by the desert in the south, and the northern Mediterranean climate, as well as the ingredients that grow nearby, like olive oil, hot chiles and spices, tomatoes, seafood and meat. Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are a staple crop here, and are served in many different dishes because they are useful in many ways, tasty, and full of nutrition. They can be found being served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

In Tunis, the capitol city of Tunisia, they start their days with a savory chickpea stew called Lablabi. It has a flavorful broth, chickpeas, spicy harissa paste, and is often served with poached eggs or tuna for added protein to get you through the day. Its a bit different from our usually sweet breakfasts in the US, even though eggs with hot sauce is popular here.

It does take some time to soak dried chickpeas in order to make the soup, but there is a point to starting with dried chickpeas. The broth is just not the same without the chickpea cooking liquid (not the liquid from the can!). You can only get the broth just right if you cook the chickpeas yourself.

Try this variation of breakfast and see what you think! There are no rules, so you can add nearly anything to make your own Lablabi at home.


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