Like many holidays around the world, Ramadan is a celebratory season. It’s a month of fasting, but there’s also an emphasis on charitable acts, family, friends, food and fun (post-sunset)!People gather around a Tunisian meal in a home setting
The iftar (called shaqan il fatr in Tunisia) is the evening meal when families break their fast. As a traveler in Tunisia, taking part in an iftar is a great way to enjoy the festivities and engage the culture. And because the food is usually a feast of the most traditional and tasty of Tunisian cuisine, it’s a win from every angle.
Think stuffed dates, spicy shorba (traditional soup), tasty brik (filo pastry filled with an egg mixture and deep fried), piping hot lamb or fish couscous, a variety of salads and sides, all washed down with a glass of refreshing il binn (buttermilk). Hopefully that doesn’t fill you up too much, because traditional cakes, fruit, and mint tea will be served for dessert!
There are a couple simple ways you can join an iftar meal during your travels in Tunisia:
1) Many restaurants open for iftar meals. Because the restaurants are catering to the local crowd, you’ll get a traditional meal and an insight into Ramadan festivities. Restaurants that serve iftar meals range from simple budget options all the way to fancy.
2) For a more interactive experience, a number of local NGO’s, cultural centers, and local guest houses (maison d’hotes) organize iftar meals that have more of an event flair. The purpose is to provide a space for people to meet one another and share a meal. So it’s an opportunity to meet Tunisians and learn more about Ramadan traditions. The event might host traditional live music, or there might be poetry, historical, or religious readings. Cultural café Dar Kmar in the Sousse medina and guest house Dar Ben Gacem in Tunis are two examples of places that host Ramadan events like this.
Tunisians Celebrate Ramadan Iftar Meal on a Rooftop in the Sfax Medina
Tunisians prepare for an iftar meal on the rooftop of Cafe Kemour in the Sfax Medina
Staying Culturally Sensitive During Ramadan in Tunisia
You might be wondering if you can be culturally sensitive in Tunisia during Ramadan if you don’t fast. The simple answer is, absolutely! Tunisians understand that not everyone observes the fast. There’s also no expectation that travelers will be fasting.
If you consume food or drink in public, the respectful way to do it is to be discrete about it.
For example, if you’re exploring the Sousse medina (old city) and need a drink of water, step onto a quiet side street to do so. Or if you’ve packed a picnic lunch to eat while touring one of the many Roman sites, look for a place to sit away from the crowds. If you stop in to a restaurant that’s open during the day, consume the food on site even if eating as you go would be more convenient.
If you’re traveling with one of our guides, they have plenty of experience helping travelers during Ramadan. They’ll be able to give you further insight into how to consume food and drink in a respectful way. Our guides will also be able to help you find good solutions for your meals.