For two weeks in August 2008, I returned to Tunisia for Zina’s elaborate wedding and to visit friends and places I had reminisced about for the past two years. I took the long multi-carrier journey from New York City to Gabés in the south of Tunisia for the wedding, and then traveled up along the coast to Tunis to stay with Senda. I stayed with friends and their families for two weeks, which reassured my belief that hospitality is supreme in Tunisia.
I spent the first week in the south, where the sun and couscous blaze hot, for my first Tunisian wedding. It was a traditional wedding with numerous days of ceremonies, dancing, and communal celebration and activities, and many late nights consuming Tunisian pastries and thé aux pignons (tea with pine nuts). After a few days in Gabes, the wedding party made its way up along the coast to Monastir, near Sousse, for the last day of wedding celebrations. I continued on up to Tunis for the second half of my trip with Senda, her friends, and her always generous and gracious family.
The second week contrasted to the first, as I found myself lounging around Senda’s pool, taking leisurely walks through the sun-drenched medina, and often heading to the beach. It was this visit to Tunis and the medina where my considerations of foutas turned into something more. I spoke with Senda about my idea, bought a range of foutas in different colors and styles, and observed closely the different ways they were used. We were sprawled around Senda’s pool, each with our own foutas, when I realized that I had to bring them to you.