Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Land of Tuna

Tunisians seem to have a love affair with tuna.  It appears to be everywhere.  I've been here a month and I have had the fish in ways that I never before imagined.

My very first meal in Tunis was a pizza with tuna on it.  Just about any pizzeria will offer this as a menu option.  For my money, there's no substitute for good ole pepperoni.  A few days later I had tuna in an omelet.  It turned out to be a really hearty meal that I wouldn't mind having every once in a while. Tuna is one of the ingredients in lablabi, a local favorite that I had the "pleasure" to sample in my first week here. Last week I had tuna in a crepe. The jury is still out on that one. I also find it used frequently as a garnish to a popular dipping sauce called harissa. It's something that accompanies the basket of bread you automatically get when you order a meal at just about any restaurant. In a twist on that theme, one restaurant sprinkled tuna over the house salad.

Interestingly enough, I have not had tuna in a sandwich, although I have seen it on menus in sandwich shops. But I don't think it's the tuna salad that I'm used to making for myself.  It's just plain, unadulterated tuna that you can dress up with a variety of vegetables that you might consider for a garden salad. Who knows how many other ways I will eat the fish before I leave.

When I looked into the matter, I discovered that tuna is indeed widely used in Tunisian cooking. That may be due to the fact that huge quantities of it are harvested right off the coast not far from Tunis. In fact, fishermen catch so much of it that they have to ship a lot of it overseas.

All of this led me to ask some of the locals I befriended whether the names Tunis and Tunisia are derived from the word tuna. They assured me they were not. I figured that was the case, but I had to ask just to make sure. All the same, the country would seem to have every right to call itself the Land of Tuna. 


  1. Hhhhhhhhhh may be its al right about land of tuna lol

  2. Haha I never thought about that, but if Tunisia is not derivated from Tuna, that's a very good coincidence. By the way, you need to try the best salty snack called "fricassé" composed with tuna also !
    I wish I was in Tunisia right now !