Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Oranges, Dates and Milawi, Oh My!

So if it hasn't been said before, by Loren or by myself, I think I should tell you that I love the food here. Certainly it isn't perfect, and when cooked it's sort of too complicated for me to grasp. But it's not the cuisine that I love, it's simply the FOOD.

For example, I love the oranges. There are about as many kinds of oranges here as apples in the Okanagan. I don't like all of them, just the tangy ones. You see, some are sweet with no tang (douce), some are a little tangy, some are very tangy, some are down right acidic, some are blood red, some are small and soft others are big and firm, and they're all oranges! Unfortunetly the orange season is almost over, and the good ones won't be sold in the markets again until next winter. The only oranges left will be juicing oranges, but they still make nice juice.

The dates are the next favorite. I'm never without a few dates in a stash on my desk. They're like healthy candy, and just as addictive. Do you know where dates come from? From palm trees, big ones. The best dates in the world are produced in Irak. Tunisia produces the second best. They are called Deglet Nour Dates and they are so clear in colour that you can see the pit in the centre of the fruit. They are fantabulous! Nothing like those nasty, dark, dried out, pitted things that come in generic blue plastic wrap at your local safeway or loblaws. They are the jewel of the desert and I am completely addicted! I don't know what I'm ever going to do if we have to leave them. I live on Deglet Nour Dates here!

And the last thing is a rarer treat, though it's not expensive either. When Tunisia experienced a migration of its population from rural to urban areas a certain flatbread called Milawi (Mill-ay-wee) made its way into the cities. It is flour and water made into a dough and then folded over and over with copious amounts of olive oil until it is slick, firm and elastic. Then it is stretched to about 10 inches and thrown on an inverted metal disk (looks like a reshaped, burnt hubcap - probably is) that is resting over a gas flame, and cooked until it is dark on both sides. Then you spread harissa (hot pepper paste) and tuna or egg or cheese or sliced turkey salami (called ham) on it and roll it up. One of these bad-boys will fuel you for hours, mostly from the fat, and costs about sixty cents canadian. I love these things! When we go to the store, the woman is careful to dab on such a small amount of harissa, thinking we Euros can't handle the heat. We waive our arms at her and say Bersha! Bersha! and she smiles and loads it on. Today we were maybe a little over-emphatic and Loren's nose started running from the heat. Hee, hee!

Whoever's coming is going to have to try some of all of these! You just can't imagine how much I love them!

Oh yeah, I really like roasted chickpeas too! They're like a healthy snack alternative to nuts here, and they come in a little brown paper bag stillhot from roasting! Yum!


At 5:11 p.m., Blogger Lightfooted said...

Drooling! You have me drooling Tiara. I can't wait to enjoy the tasty, simple foods (although the the cuisine, complicated as it is, will probably appeal to my tastebuds too.) I'm especially looking forward to the roasted chick-peas as they're one of my favourite foods to begin with. Can't wait!


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