Articles & Recipes
The Food of North Africa
lthough North Africa is a single topographic unit, it is an area rich in geographic, political, social, economic, and
cultural diversity. The foods are as diverse as the land, its
people, and its history.
The roots of North African cuisine go back over 2000 years and are attributed originally to the Berbers, a Christian nomadic
people. By the seventh century A.D., the nomadic Bedouin Arabs began placing their stamp on the region's culinary traditions.
Along the Southern Mediterranean
Spanning the territory along the southern Mediterranean Sea, the region encompasses the nations of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and
Egypt. Influenced by centuries of traders, travelers, invading armies, migrations and immigrations, each group has left its own special mark.
The Phoenicians of the first century brought dried sausage; the
Carthaginians introduced wheat and its by product, semolina.
The Berbers adapted this into couscous -- a main dietary
staple. With the Arabs of the seventh and eighth centuries came
a wide variety of spices: saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and
cloves. Attributed to the Spanish Moors are the highly
flavorful Mediterranean products, olives and olive oil. The
Ottoman Turks contributed the culinary richness of sweet pastries. The New World has also left its impact through the export of tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini and chiles.
Unique Herbs & Spices
Even though all the Mediterranean countries have much in
common, each has its unique herbs and spices, ingredients
and cooking styles: Moroccans enjoy full-bodied flavors,
Tunisians savor fiery dishes. Various versions of the same
dish are found, sometimes with a different name or
a slight change in ingredients.