I visit places not to tick off things in my ‘to do’ list. I visit places to feel them, sense the culture, taste its food, and smell its odours. Being a curious cat, I like to feel the pulse of the local life and there is no better place for that than at a local market. That is why, every time I visit a new country, I never miss going to a local market. Being naturally curious, we love to get a glimpse of what life is like for the people living there. Food speaks volumes about the prevalent culture and my personal experience has taught me that one gets the freshest and the cheapest food at the local markets. Thus it was no wonder, that I visited a Tunis local market with my friend Munnie. A true Mali native, she loves local markets too and everything that comes with them; the haggling, the cries of the vendors, the tumble of fresh produce, and the jostle.

Munnie and I eating Lablabi at a street restaurant in Tunis local market

Glimpses of a Tunis local market

We went to a Tunis local market near Medina and it was exotic, grungy, and full of colours. Our visit was timed in the morning and the hustle and bustle of the market offered glimpses of everyday life in Tunisia’s capital city. It was a market for the ‘have-nots’ unlike the nearby suave Marché Central and it triggered all our senses. There was a cacophony of the shrill cries of the vendors boasting of their fine produce and a heady scent of spices mingled with the pungent odours of the rotting refuse. Plastic sheets crackled underneath our feet as we wandered around and the friendly vendors posed and preened for our cameras. Above all, there was the explosion of colours of fruits and vegetables neatly arranged in mounds. There were pyramids of herbs and garlands of dried harissa peppers swung in the morning breeze. Handwoven baskets held chickpeas, lentils, olives, and almonds and sedate local Tunisian ladies inspected undergarments that were being sold from a cart. In another section, there was a small fish market, and next to it were shops selling household goods, pots, pans, and freshly made street food. Rabbits looked out from mesh baskets and pigeons cooed from awnings. Amidst this colourful chaos trundled a dilapidated atmospheric streetcar and it even had a brazen young lad sitting on the engine.

Seasonal vegetables for sale at a Tunis local market

It’s one world

Such was my experience of a Tunis local market. Take a look at the vegetables, the fruits, the concentrated looks of the shoppers, and you will recognize faces from the local markets in Calcutta, Dhaka, Bangkok, or some other ‘exotic; country.

Harissa peppers for sale in a Tunis local market

Olives, artichokes, and lemons

A vendor selling limes at a Tunis local market

A little square in the middle of the market

Dates galore

Desert pears

Some unknown spice that I could nor recognize

Some spices and packets of henna that I could recognize

Fresh herbs

This fruits shop was an explosion of colours

A woman shopping at a Tunis local market


The spice

A woman shopping at a Tunis local market

Handwoven baskets for sale at a Tunis local market

The section that sold household goods

Street food for sale at a Tunis local market

Munnie and I

A slice of local life in Tunis

Follow the rest of the Tunisia series