Here’s to Openings!

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            I write a lot about the delirium I experience, really wherever I am but also here in Tunis, regarding bountiful, seasonal produce.  So I think I am partly responsible for setting unrealistic expectations for visitors (my sons) and people just moving here about how access to food happens.  During the best of times, one must continually plan ahead.  Shopping for food involves making “the rounds”:  meat here, dried beans somewhere else, and vegetables here and there. There’s never enough bread and it seems we’re always picking it up when we’re coming or going.  Our bread shop is closed on Tuesdays, our charcuterrie is closed on Wednesdays, the farmers’ market is sold out by noon.  Most of this we discovered through trial and error, resulting in some disappointing errand runs and a few bare-bones dinners.
            But now we’ve lived here a year and we’ve got a pretty good shopping groove plus some pantry and freezer staples.  We’ve usually got something we can put together for a meal, but we know it has been rough for our new staff who don’t have much time to shop to begin with and then can spend hours in 100 degree heat trying to find a grocery store they’ve been told existed just to go home again absolutely empty handed.  This complication is exacerbated by the fact that we have been enjoying the month of Ramadan and it’s also August, the traditional vacation month for residents of the Mediterranean rim.  Stores that might usually be available are closed for the whole month, hours of operation are unpredictable, and the big stores are packed cart to cart with locals stocking up for all of those Iftar feasts.
            This brings me to today’s happy little celebration.  The Monoprix grocery store in our neighborhood that was burned and looted in last January’s revolution, and has been since closed, opened just this morning.  I am only letting myself begin to revel in the thought of the delicious convenience of walking two blocks along a shady street to get some last minute ingredient for cooking.  If we find ourselves too tired to cook after work we can swing in for some fresh ravioli and marinated fruit de mer to make a quick pasta.    How about a rotisserie chicken or a freshly caught dourade to pan fry in a few minutes?  This opening is symbolic of Ramadan itself, which is about the extreme thankfulness one experiences for the basic things in life after a period of deprivation.  
January 2011
August 2011

One thought on “Here’s to Openings!

  1. HALLELUJAH! Was the shouts that came from the Donahue rental car as we drove past the store on our way home from the airport last evening. It seemed that all of Carthage was there last night, we're saving a visit for a less congested time:)

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