August 02, 2005

Pakistani Food

Tonight some friends from the dorm and I went out to eat at a Pakistani restaurant, that the British kids I met at Noah’s party about two weeks ago recommended. (See map at the bottom of this post if you want to go there.) Anyway, the food was great, and totally satisfied my craving for something different which I failed to satisfy at the Turkish restaurant yesterday. The set up was all-you-can-eat, for 8 dinar apiece (currently about $6 US). That's a bit pricy by Tunisian standards, but well worth it.

As far as I can tell, Pakistani food is basically Indian food, but with beef added. There was jasmine rice cooked with saffron and clove, flat bread, and plenty of curry. It was so wonderful to eat something completely different from my staple Tunisian dishes! Also, true to form, the Brits manage to sneak alcohol into the restaurant… Pimms’ No. 2, a mixed drink tasting something like a weak Long Island Iced Tea, with slices of fresh fruit, in a large thermos. (As far as the restaurant owners know, it’s a “special tea.”)

I have to say, you don’t realize until you’ve lived in a Muslim country for a month how important alcohol consumption is to your own culture’s social customs. Any social event, whether sponsored by my university for visiting academics, or just friends hanging out to talk, is going to involve drinks. Maybe in fact it’s something specific to the normal stand-offishness of British culture (which we Americans have inherited to a certain extent) that we actually need some chemical assistance to be social. Certainly, when you’ve gotten used to kicking back a beer with friends when you feel like relaxing and enjoying yourself, you feel quite out of sorts when all of a sudden that’s just impossible.

It’s not that there is no alcohol available in Tunisia. At fancy restaurants you can order wine, and hotel cafés may serve wine or mixed drinks. Also, there is one Tunisian brand of beer which you can buy at some grocery stores. (But it’s pretty awful.) But there are no bars here. The closest equivalent is a sheesha café, where you can buy tea, coffee, and a hookah pipe of tobacco. But these are exclusively male hang-outs, so that option is kind of closed to me as well.


Anonymous Marouen said...

We do have bars in Tunisia but it's not similar to american bars or British pubs. Often it's a small place full of men (no women) and of smoke. You find these places often in down town not in touristic places where the price of the same bottle is twice or 3 times the prices there.

August 12, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can find bars and discos in Gammarth. But you should have a car to go there.

August 12, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home