Tunisian cuisine, typically Mediterranean cuisine, stems from an ancestral tradition of gastronomic culture in Tunisia and reflects successive cultural heritages (Berber, Punic, Arab, Jewish, Turkish, Greek, Italian, etc.); it depends on the regional climate and the geography of the country, and therefore on its local products: wheat (found in the form of bread, pasta or semolina), olives and olive oil, meat (especially mutton, beef, chicken and other poultry, even camel in some southern regions), fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood (squid, octopus, tuna, mullet, sparidae, sea bream, sea bass, etc.), especially along sides. This cuisine differs significantly from its Maghreb neighbors: the Tunisian tajine is thus different from the Moroccan or Algerian version, it is the same for certain preparations of pasta, salads, etc.
Opening up to tourism also brings international cuisine, such as Chinese, Indian or Japanese cuisine, as well as fast food. The intensification of European and international trade also makes previously unknown or unusual products available.
Tunisians make daily use of spices and fresh or dried peppers, used in the form of powder or paste like harissa; moreover, aromatic herbs are used in abundance both to flavor dishes and in the form of infusions. Tunisians also make almost daily use of eggs, used in the preparation of brik, tajine, ojja, chakchouka, cakes and desserts, or used to garnish salads and other dishes. Eggs are also eaten for breakfast, hard, soft or scrambled, both plain and turmeric.
This Mediterranean, African and Oriental cuisine is rich and elaborate, with many specialties varying according to the region (north, south, coast, oasis, etc.) and the ethnic group of origin (Berber, Andalusian, or Arab).
Tunisia is considered one from the best places in the mediterranean sea to grow fresh foods, healthy and containing a wide variety from cereals, fish, fruits like oranges and dattes, vegetables..
Due to a cereal production historically dominated by durum wheat, the most consumed food is undoubtedly pasta, in particular spaghetti and macaroni generally served with tomato sauce and meat more or less spicy , garlic and chilli. However, couscous remains the traditional dish par excellence. This is characterized by a combination of vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, squash, etc.), meat (especially that of lamb) and semolina, the seed of which is produced from the same variety of corn. Couscous is very frequently consumed in simple forms – in particular fish couscous, which is a specialty in coastal areas such as Sfax, Gabès and Djerba – or in more elaborate forms during ceremonies1. In fact, there are a multitude of couscous, ranging
from vegetarian couscous to milk couscous with lamb and rosemary, via couscous to osban (guts and stuffed tripe), to octopus or stuffed squid.
Spices, generally used in the form of powder, are traditionally purchased in seeds or tubers, sorted, washed, dried and then ground. A family reserve (oula) is prepared annually, the quantity kept depending on the size of the family and its consumption.
The basic spices are cumin, coriander, caraway, turmeric, chilli, pepper, ginger, cloves, saffron, black seed (popularly believed to protect against evil eye), cubèbe and cinnamon. They are sometimes used separately but most often in combination; coriander and caraway are often used together while pepper and chili are added to most dishes. Ras el-hanout is for its part a mixture of pepper, dried rose buds, cinnamon bark, cloves and cubed seeds powdered (list of ingredients not exhaustive).
Aromatic herbs are also in common use, this is the case of mint (both fresh and dried), anise (fresh seeds and tops), fennel (seeds, fresh or dried tops), rosemary, oregano or marjoram, garlic, dried rosebuds, dried orange peel, bay leaves, geranium leaves, dill and many others. These herbs are used in different dishes and different types of bsissa, in tea, even in some regional recipes for couscous, salads, fish, etc.
Tunisian cuisine also makes great use of lemon juice, which is used for soups, salads, fried foods (including briks), grilled meat and fish; but lemon is also used in brine (limoun) to flavor several preparations. Lemonade and squeezed lemon are consumed in abundance, especially in summer.
Traditionally, families prepare canned food for the year based on seasonal produce. Among the most common preserves are brined vegetables (turnip, carrot, pepper, chili, lemon and capers), smen (rancid butter), harissa, dried meats and merguez, cooked in olive oil. ‘olive and preserved in cooking oil, salted and dried fish (anchovies), tuna in oil, dried octopus, frik (green wheat), borghol, corete (mloukhiya), black olives and green (several preservation methods), pickles, dried tomatoes, figs, apricots, dried dates and grapes, orange, quince, apricot and fig jams and fruit pastes.
Distilled waters of rose, geranium and orange blossom also play an important role in Tunisian cuisine, especially in pastry. Olive oil is the queen of fats used in Tunisian cuisine.