We slept quite well in Kairouan, the previous day was pretty hectic and the La Kasbah Hotel was quite nice. As usual, we got up very early, about 5am or so. We enjoy taking early morning walks when we travel. You get to see a city waking up and also the crowds are less severe. Kairouan's medina is known as being probably the least commercial and touristy of all the larger cities in Tunisia, so I wanted to see what it was like. We asked the doorman where the medina was and he pointed to right around the corner.
The medina looks quite fortified, surrounded by walls over 30 feet high. These walls were erected during the early part of the 18th century, though recorded history of the medina goes back to before the 8th century.
If some of the medina looks somewhat familiar, it might be because it was used to depict Cairo in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's kinda funny, we were hitting a bunch of movie sites during this trip. One of the stories I heard was that the character "Sallah's" house was an actual house in the medina, but when they did a shot panning across the top of the city, they had residents remove over 300 television antennas for a day so they could shoot.
There is a feeling that the medina here is rather unspoiled....the streets are rather wide, the back avenues consist of residences, I'll show you much more in a later post.
The Missus and I really enjoyed walking through here, it gave us a feel of what daily life might be like in Kairouan. As we made our way through the streets we started to see folks opening their shops and making their way to work in the morning.
It didn't take very long for us to make our way to the other end of the medina.
As we headed back through the medina we came across this little shop doing quite a bit of business.
In the shop, a gentleman sat, legs crossed, above a large cast iron pan, that looked like a wok. He received a ball of dough from a young man with striking green eyes and hair the color of the Grand Erg Oriental. When I asked Ben about this later, I was told that it's not unusual for Berber to have even blue eyes and blond hair!
I saw the gentleman get the dough started in the hot oil, which never smoked, I confirmed later on that it was grapeseed oil, which has a high smoke point. He then added an egg. I told the Missus, "man, I wonder if that's how brik is supposed to really be made?" I then asked the woman waiting for her fried dough and a couple of those with eggs by pointing to the dough floating around.....she confirmed it was indeed brik.
Folks were buying this stuff in quantities of four to six. The prices were also pretty cheap, something like 0.4 Dinar (25 cents) for a hefty sized piece of fried dough and 0.6 (35 cents) for one with an egg. Soon the woman had her order filled. The guy behind the pan spoke to another man asking for his order.....he pointed to us, basically informing the "chef" that we were next in line. Folks here in Kairouan were more reserved, but very gracious. So, of course we had to have some brik.
After handing the cook some dough, the young man waved us to the counter in back to have a seat. he also showed us the sink in case we wanted to wash our hands. In a couple of minutes, our brik arrived, steam rising.....
The dough was crisp, light, but still with some substance, and not greasy at all. We soon discovered a very nice thing about the dough, it was studded with caraway seeds, which just brought it up another notch.
The egg was wonderfully runny, it seemed to have been poached. You eat this with your hands, when the young man saw us digging in, he kindly brought us a few more napkins!
This is why we travel....I mean the sights are great and all that, but having brik in the back streets of the medina in Kairouan, well that's like the cherry on the top of the most wonderful ice cream sundae......
I hope you're having a wonderful weekend.