July 19, 2018

Tunisian Cooking and Cocktail Show

H.E. Elyes Ghariani, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia.

By Roy Lie A Tjam.

The Embassy of Tunisia together with the Tunisian Tourist Office organized a splendid Tunisian cooking and cocktail show at the Wittenberg Castle in Wassenaar on, 6 July 2017. The Internationally renowned Tunisian top chefs Wafik Belaid and Haykel Ben Zayda guaranteed a culinary enjoyment of top level. All the while H.E. Elyes Ghariani, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia, gave a briefing on the current situation in the country. Ghariani stressed the impact of the travel ban on the economy and also the sector recovery after the elimination of the negative advice in many European countries.

Additionally, Mohamed Attia, Director of the Tunisian Tourist Office in the Netherlands, delivered his remarks on the current tourist situation in Tunisia. A representative of the ANVR shed some light on the situation surrounding the travel ban now plaquing Tunisia.

Ambassador Elyes Ghariani noted, ‘let me start by telling you how delighted I am to welcome all of you to the Tunisian Cooking and Cocktail Show.

I will be brief especially since we are here for an “eat and greet” gathering. I just wanted you to get a glimpse of the context of the present show and of course of the Tunisian cuisine.

As the summer season has begun, the Tunisian people have been blessed with the holy Month of Ramadan until June. Tourists traveling to Tunisia have been blessed with a lot of sun. I recall having checked the forecast to find out that we have a 20-Celsius degree difference between Tunis and The Hague in this particular month. So I reckon it’s high time to get packing.
We are also blessed because we are witnessing clear signs of steady returns of tourists to Tunisia since the beginning of this year thanks to the normalization of the security situation in the country.

The normalization has been confirmed by the lifting of the travel ban by most European countries including Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Island. Particularly growing numbers of tourists are witnessed to be coming from France and Germany. We expect also many of our Algerian brothers and sisters as is the case every summer as well as from various countries across the five continents.

Our target remains to reach back the normal figures of 7 million tourists visiting yearly Tunisia, as at the times before the 2011 Revolution.
Tunisia might mainly be renowned to some of you for its weather and beautiful beaches. In fact, it is a land of three-thousand years long civilization.
Land of peace and authenticity, Tunisia is undoubtedly the most endearing destination.

Thanks to its particularly rich history, as well as its warm hospitality, which has succeeded in seducing the travelers of the whole world for centuries. From the coast to the desert through the deep valleys, it offers an incredible geographic, cultural, natural, patrimonial, historical and human richness.
Tunisia is a destination of constant astonishment and interest. Tunisia possesses a cultural heritage among the richest of the Mediterranean sea with amongst others a surprising number of archaeological sites inherited from multiple civilizations. From the shores of the Mediterranean sea to the gate of the desert, thermal baths, temples, amphitheaters, but also mosques, harbors, museums, churches, synagogues, mausoleums, and medinas, not to mention the famous mosaics … succeed each other and compete with beauty.

Some of these sites are also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Carthage, the Punic City of Kerkouane and its necropolis, the amphitheater of El Jem, the Medina of Sousse, Kairouan and Tunis, Dougga and the Ichkeul National Park.

All these marvels remind us how Tunisia is rich in history and influence, with a historical cultural heritage which is closely linked with ancestral traditions.

But today let us talk food before we move on to experimenting those exotic culinary gourmets made by our Chefs Wafik and Haykal especially who have traveled all the way from Tunisia to treat you.

The Tunisian-style food is quite distinctive. The cuisine reflects the country’s rich and varied history, blending a Berber, Roman, Arabic, Phoenician, Turkish and French influences. Overall, it could be labeled as a mix of Mediterranean dishes and distinctive Berber traditions with bold and earthy spices.

For instance, the Berbers gave us couscous as much as that was inherited by our North African neighbors Algeria and Morocco. However, couscous in Tunisia has a distinct nature as the grain is highly seasoned rather than steamed plain.
It is often spiked with Harissa, a paste-like condiment or what I would call the Tunisian label of Chili red hot peppers, which own various tastes depending on their growing temperatures. So if you are up for the fight-or-flight syndrome, this occasion is fit-for-purpose.

Harissa is customarily mixed and toned down with olive oil since we inherited and have grown a numbers of olive trees, including the biggest olive tree field in the World.

I cannot overlook Tunisian wines, the big star of which is “Magon”. This red wine is cultivated in Mornag, in the northeastern part of the country. This region honors the Carthaginian Magon, the worshiped Master of agronomy, who cultivated his grapes near the village of Majus in the south of Carthage and certain rules of whom are nowadays still used.’

Among the guests present during the event were several Ambassadors, officials from the Dutch Government, the business(travel) community and members of the Tunisian community. The guests were also given an update on the tourist situation as well as a sampling of the sumptuous Tunisian cuisine.

In spite the rain Tunisian cooking and cocktail show could be classified as a tremendous success.

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