Did you read Under the Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles? If you know the book, do listen to this hilarious performance that parodies its bizarre story line. You will pick up the parallel details right away.
But you know how they were always going on about wearing a burnous? Well, this is what it is. It is a hooded wool cloak that Berber men wear in North Africa. A burnous is very practical for sheep herders and others working in the countryside on winter days that alternately shift between bright sun, spitting rain, gusty winds, and lowish temps. That was today.
We collected one of these old garments at a medina in Sousse a couple of years ago. It is made of the coarsest sheep wool and has random burn holes and bits of print fabric patches here and there. It is a coat with a story, and we love it for that.
There were three products going on today: sheep, fennel (by-the-truckload!), and oranges. Both sides of the road were stacked with these orange and pink crates, for kilometers.
We bought one that weighed 21 kilos, close to 50 pounds, and it cost about 25 dinars, which is about 12 dollars. Allan will juice these for our breakfasts for a couple of weeks, but it won’t take too long to go through them.
We could have stopped at any number of fruit and vegetable vendors, but this was kind of our last chance, and I was so impressed that the proprietor was willing to trot across the road in said spitting-rain-of-the-moment. The neat re-purposed water bottles in the background are full of tiny chili peppers. We bought fennel, carrots, and leeks which all went into this uplifting soup.
Tunisian Winter Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped leek, white part, only
1/2 cup chopped fennel
2 scant tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 cups chopped carrots
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon bitter orange or lemon juice
1 can coconut milk (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, and ground chili, and cilantro to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, fennel, and carrots. Sauté until leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic; saute one more minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree with an immersion blender or food processor until very smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the stir in orange juice and bitter orange or lemon juice. Add coconut milk (if using), then adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, ground chili and cilantro. Reheat and serve.