Day 4  The Cooking Class

Tunisian Proverb: If my belly is of glass, I will fill it with bread and chicken; if it is a closed cellar, I will fill it with cockroaches.

We arrived in this narrow street in front of a very neat looking house with no signage indicating that this is the Guest House Dar Omi. The minute we step through the front door we are welcomed like old friends or family. Before you have put your bags down you already feel as if you are at home. 

The house rises up 3 floors. We follow Madame Rabaa to the first room. Its colourful eclectic decor has friend C shouting “It’s mine” and she rushes in to stake her claim. We go up another flight of stairs and friend A sees the room that says here an artist will feel right at home. How amazing that both my friends find rooms that suit their personalities and so I wonder what I’m going to get. A lovely light room with its own private balcony, perfect. I love it! I want to stay for a week. Later when we speak about how the rooms suit C and A’s personalities they decide mine suits me too – they called my room the Princess Room. 

There is not much time for unpacking as we need to go shopping for our cooking class. Madam Rabaa does not speak English so her daughter, Mariem, who is a law student at the Sorbonne (yes, the one in Paris) and who is currently on holiday at home, is taking us to the traditional food market. 

I will let the photos tell the story. The souk in Sousse is huge and a wonderful maze of small alleys filled with stalls selling just about everything you want to buy to make delicious meals. I bought a lot of saffron as its very cheap here and many friends back home would appreciate it. 

Shopping, gawking, asking questions is hard work and after a few hours in the souk Madame Rabaa takes us down this tiny very hidden away alley. Its a dead end but right at the end there is a door that takes us into a delightful space. Colourful and eclectic, inviting and cosy, here you sit on wooden chests, Roman capitals or chairs. It has been functioning for years and I can see this was a meeting place where many heated debates took place before and during the revolution and where celebrations lasted a long time afterwards. When I point my opinion out to Madame Rabaa she confirms my observation by pointing out some of the guest currently seated in the cafe. At one table an award winning film director and at a corner table a well-known author. 

About the Roman capital – I was shocked to see this. Surely it is wrong to remove century old stones from UNESCO sites and use them in the souk for chairs. However, I’m told, there is so much lying around in Tunisia that nobody would miss a few. I’m still shocked but if I ever move to Tunisia permanently I certainly will try to lay my hands on one or two for my garden. 

We drive along the esplanade back to the guest house, making a stop at Madame Rabaa’s favourite bakery. Here she buys the dough we are going to use to make Brik and she points out a popular actor, who currently is playing a lead role in a daily soap in Tunisia, who is also shopping there today. 


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