Exploring the glory of fried dough in Tunisia

As best as I can tell every culture in the world has developed one common dining standard: they all love fried dough covered in sugar. I cannot fault any of them. Whether churros, donuts, beignets, sufganiot or whatever other name it goes by, the glory of these goodies is hard to ignore.

IMGP8713As we walked through the streets of Sidi Bou Saïd on our first afternoon there we happened upon what can only be described as a gaggle of local teens pushing their way to the front of a line in a tiny storefront just off the main tourist square. Not willing to let a good street food opportunity go untapped I pressed in with the masses, hoping that it would be worth the effort.

It was even better than I’d hoped. Crispy on the outside and a bit gooey in the middle, with big sugar crystals that added to the crunch as well as providing most of the flavor.

In Tunisia the fried dough phenomena is known as bombolouni. The operation we happened upon was a three man group churning them out as quickly as the hot oil could just barely get them cooked. Indeed, the frying process was so quick that the bombolouni were actually a bit raw in the middle, something I enjoyed. One guy was forming the rings, the next tending the fryer and the third adding sugar wrapping them in a thin paper to soak up a bit of the oil and pretend that they can insulate your hands from the heat.

It is a tiny operation doing swift business and it was delicious.

More from Tunisia here!

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.