Pure Tunisia

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            It’s too bad that New Zealand already took the adjective “pure” for their tourist advertising, although it certainly does describe New Zealand.  A whole county that can claim they don’t have giardia, that’s impressively pure.  So I guess I don’t mean that kind of pure about Tunisia.  I think what I mean is essential.  Life in Tunisia, in my view, is marked by three elements:  sea, sky, and farm food.  At least those are the three things that I cannot stop exclaiming about pretty much every day.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I started a blog to have somewhere to write about my impressions of these three things whenever I need to.  And it’s pretty often. 
            I have been gallivanting around Europe a little bit lately.  It has been super fun.  Barcelona? Rome?  These are world-class cities and that means they’ve got everything.  They have history, culture, art, modern conveniences, stores, selling anything you might want to buy and restaurants, anything you might want to eat.   But (you heard that but coming didn’t you?), I don’t need all of that all of the time.  It’s too much for me.  It doesn’t give me enough blank space in my mind or my life to process, use what I have, stop spending money, and just exist without getting more, which can mean stuff or stimulation.  After our terrific weekend in Rome and Umbria we were full, in every sense, and craving essential Tunis. 

And as if to welcome me back to the simple life, look what greeted me at our corner produce stand:  baskets of charentais melons.   Now these are really a Martha Stewart thing for me.  Years ago, when she published her Gardening book, I was awe-struck by the numerous types of each vegetable variety she planted.  Those were my super keen gardening years and based on her modeling, I tried to source at least a few more seed varieties than the regular Burpees green beans.  I did get my hands on a packet of charentais melon seeds that I only knew about from her book.  I didn’t really know the first thing about growing melons.  I’m still not even sure they grow in our corner of northwest Washington, which can foreshadow for you right there that no charentais melons were ever produced.  I started the seeds, but, like happens to me sometimes, I probably got busy and distracted and stopped watering them.  They didn’t work out, but they remained in my mind as a symbol of elegant and interesting food. 
Now I learn that there are farmers in Tunisia who are tending small plots of this specialized cantaloupe for our enjoyment and I will be able to buy one, for a little more than 3 dinars, for the next few weeks.  This is what I love about living here.  What might be next?   When a melon can make your whole week you know you’ve got a good balance in your life.

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