Young Tunisian couple take pains to keep up with ‘sweet’ tradition

November 11, 2011

For Nizar and Eman, a young couple with a nine-month-old baby, the setting has to be perfect.

With dozens of relatives expected to come to their home to wish young Adam a happy first Eid Al Adha, everything in their apartment has to be immaculate.

Eman, a business graduate who has deferred working until her son is at least a year old, needs to show her in-laws she can bake and prepare Eid pastry in a laudable way.

“It is very important for me to pass this test,” she said. “Celebrating Eid Al Adha with fanfare is part of our tradition and no feast is complete without traditional sweets.”


Sweets in Tunisia are closely related to important moments in life.

“I am making baklava [pastry layered with chopped nuts, almonds and honey]. I will also prepare samsa [a thin pastry filled with roasted pistachio and sesame seeds in rose water syrup],” Eman said. “I will also prepare other sweets such as cakes with date paste or geranium water.”

Even though Eid Al Adha is the feast of sacrifice, sweets cannot be overlooked, especially in Tunis which alongside, Sfax, is the melting pot of Tunisia’s ‘sweet’ history.

“We of course like meat, especially in Testour, the Andalusian town in northwest Tunisia where I come from. Meat is highly significant for Tunisia’s inland diet.

“However, sweets are important too. In my case, and as I married into a traditional Tunis family, I have to live up to the legacy of great sweets left by the Turks,” she said.

Asking older women in the family and surfing the internet for information has helped her gain an insight into Tunis sweets.

“No home in Tunisia can truly celebrate Eid without the appropriate sweets. We understand some families cannot afford to buy sheep, but sweets are mandatory,” Nizar, her banker husband, said.

For the young couple, Eid has its special charms. Home-made sweets are one of them.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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