Sunday, August 29, 2010

Iftar desserts

Every evening during Ramadan, Muslims feast. So much so that 36 percent of men and 57 percent of women actually gain weight during the month where the eat and drink nothing between sunrise and sunset. That takes serious application! Women hurry home after work and begin cooking as soon as they arrive. By 3 am, they're all up making breakfast because nothing may be consumed after 4.
Lounging on a landing in Dorsaf's home
 Last night, the new teachers were invited to the home of our most refined and elegant colleague, Dorsaf. Dorsaf's knowledge of Tunisian history and culture is encylcopedic, and her love and pride for her country contageous.
Dorsaf - the woman behind the desserts.

On the left, you see a sweet couscous dish made with a bit of honey - not too sweet - dates, almonds and sultanas. On the near right is a plate of savouries - little pastries filled with olives or cheese. The desserts are eaten first in the firm belief is that eating something salty at the end of the meal aids in digesting the sugar. This after a meal of soup, brik, salads and meat! At the three o'clock position are samsas, little pastries made of the same thing as a brik (see below) and stuffed with ground pistacios lightly sweetened with honey. Then come les doigts de Fatima, finger-shaped pastries filled with nuts and cream.

Drinks included the ubiquitous mint tea, fresh pressed strawberry juice, fresh made lemonade and the delicious high-fat bouza, a cooked concoction of sorghum, ground hazelnuts, and sweetened condensed milk. A glass of that before bed and another upon rising keeps away hunger for much of the day, apparently. Nothing keeps away the thirst.

A brik is made of an impossibly thin crêpe-like semolina disc. The edges are folded in to the middle to make a square, then filled with ground either ground meat or cheese and a raw egg. It is folded in half diagonally to make a triangle, then fried in oil until the egg is cooked to the desired consistency. Are you seeing how the pounds could sock on?

Dorsaf's stairs.

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