Radio Interview

Last week I was interviewed by RTCI, a local radio station, to talk about the Access program. My co-worker Faouzi has put together a wonderful compilation of this interview along with pictures on our Access blog.

Posted in Teaching English | 5 Comments

The Bardo

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Last week I went with some friends to the Bardo, a museum in Tunis housing mostly Roman mosaics and antiquities. We were told that 60% of the museum is currently closed, but there was still plenty to see. Some of … Continue reading

Gallery | 3 Comments

First Week in Tunis

I’m back in Sfax for the weekend after spending my first week in Tunis studying at the Bourghuiba Institute. For the next two and a half months I’ll be studying Arabic there intensively, 5 hours a day/5 times a week, then jetting back to Sfax to teach a bit and see my husband.

So, first impressions. Tunis is a beautiful city with the tree-lined streets and old colonial buildings. It’s also very diverting and culturally diverse. A block away from my school is a Russian Cultural Center and just across the street from that is the National Art of Marionette Center. And finally, Tunis has some of the usual colorful characters to be found in a big city. There is, for example, an old man who has lost both legs that sits near a large mosque next to my metro stop. He has dozens of pigeons wearing bright ribbons and flowers that fly to him when he calls. It’s enchanting to watch.

The Bourghuiba Institute has really surpassed my expectations. It’s professional and well-known, bubbling with international students, and the teachers are qualified and experienced in teaching non-native speakers. Five hours a day of Arabic is a lot, and at times exhausting, but it is well-worth it as my learning curve has sky-rocketed. The day is divided in two, with the first 2.5 hours dedicated to communication and listening, then we switch teachers and study grammar and writing. My classmates hail from Korea, Italy, Japan, and Brazil. We are a diverse group with very different backgrounds in Arabic, but we’ve all made it to the 3rd level “1st year advanced”. Hearing the class next to me, presumably first level, repeat the alphabet every morning makes me very grateful for taking care of the basics in Sfax.

So, first week is a success! I’ve fallen in love with both the capital and the language. I am looking forward to discovering Tunis and taking you there with me.

Posted in Learning Arabic, Tunis | 6 Comments

Kerkennah in the Spring

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Life in Sfax can be stressful… too many people, too many cars, too much noise. Whenever Mansour or I need to melt away some of that stress we take the one hour ferry to Kerkennah where we can sleep away the afternoon and … Continue reading

Gallery | 7 Comments

Tunisian Smida Bread

Since it’s been raining a lot my mother-in-law has been cooking up a storm in the kitchen and the past few days I’ve spent eating all of it luxuriously in bed.

Today, I felt well enough to join her in the kitchen and we prepared Smida bread, smida being Arabic for semolina. I’d like to share the recipe with everyone back home in hopes that some of you will try to make this simple, delicious bread.

When Amel cooks she eyeballs everything. Even when she’s baking she doesn’t bother with measuring cups. For those like me who aren’t confident to cook without exact measurements, I’ve adapted this recipe from one found online.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1.5 to 2 cups warm water
  • Extra flour for kneading
  • Coarse semolina for dusting the loaves
  • Chopped black olives (optional)

To prepare

Mix both flours, sugar and salt in a bowl. Make a large well in the center of the mixture and add the yeast. Add the oil and 1.5 cups of hot water to the well, mixing to dissolve the yeast first, and then stirring the entire contents of the bowl together.

Begin kneading the dough on a floured surface. Continue kneading for 10 minutes, or until the dough is very smooth and elastic. While kneading, add small amounts of hot water if necessary.

Divide the dough in half and shape into a circular mound. Place on an oiled pan and cover with a towel. Allow to rest for one hour or longer. When ready, the dough should spring brack when pressed lightly with a finger.

After the dough has risen, use the palm of your hand to flatten into circles a quarter inch thick. Dust each loaf with coarse semolina. If you would like to add chopped olives, knead them into the dough before flattening.  

Poke the bread with a fork in several places. Bake in a 425 degree Farenheit oven for 20 minutes, or until loaves are nicely colored and sound hollow when tapped.

Best eaten warm and served with olive oil for dipping.

Posted in Food | 4 Comments

Rainy Days

I have my first ever ear infection and following doctor’s orders am staying home for 3 days. This happened to perfectly coincide with 3 very rain days in Sfax. Usually, when it rains the street in front of our neighborhood transforms into a muddy lake but this time around the rain is creeping up to our doorstep so that it feels like we’re living on an island. The military came today to pump the water into the city’s water belt as the rain continues.

The "lake" in front of our neighborhood.

My street.

Water being pumped.

So I guess it is as good a time as any to stay in bed all day with my husband watching movies! An additional surprise, this morning my brother-in-law/dog fanatic brought home a new cute puppy who is tiny enough to fit in a hand or a pocket. Meet 4 month old Tiger.

Posted in Family, Sfax | 1 Comment

5 hours in Nabheul

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Last week Mansour and I returned to the place where, you could say, it all started.. for an impromptu 5 hours in Nabheul, in Northern Tunisia. We got up early in the morning to catch the 5 am train and by 9 o’clock we were at the … Continue reading

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I’m Legal!

The past weeks have been cloudy, rainy and cold.. not ideal weather for going out and taking pictures! So Mansour and I have been keeping ourselves busy during the day with work and spending our evenings in bed under a mountain of covers watching movies.

One piece of exciting news is that after months of living in Sfax with an expired Visa and raking up a penalty fine, I was finally rewarded a Carte de Sejour which allows me to be here, legally, for 2 years without having to leave the country every 3 months or pay a weekly fine of 10 dinars.

 

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

Chapati

One of my favorite snacks is Chapati, with the dough rolled and shaped in front of you and filled with your choice of ingredients – egg, tuna, mozzarella cheese, capers, harissa, and mozzarella cheese being standard options. Then it’s folded over and closed in the shape of a half-circle and cooked on a hot griddle. Fresh, fast food for 2 dinars!


Posted in Food | 3 Comments

Beef for dinner?

The first time I walked past a butcher in Sfax, I was traumatized. The decapitated head of a cow made me want to run the other way, not walk into the store and buy some beef.

As time has passed I’ve gotten used to this literal style of advertising. Added to that, witnessing two Eids has made me stronger. But, Tunisia is definitely not the country for vegetarians.

Posted in Food | 11 Comments