I’m not a great one for being squeamish about meat. I like it and I eat it. If that means an animal has to be killed then, so long as it has been treated humanely, that’s OK with me. I have no time for people who eat meat and then object to being reminded of where it came from – insisting that their fish comes in a cube, their lamb without bone… that sort of thing.
However, even I was a little disturbed by the number of sheep being strung up along the road as I drove north from Djerba today. I lost count at about 20. Definitely not a good day for the ovine population of Tunisia. Then we stopped for lunch. The tidy shack was not only decorated with a picture of a smiling sheep – but it was using today’s meat provider as a sort of advertising hoarding beside the road. Yes, we have fresh sheep today, might have been the legend, look it’s still dripping blood.
First came bowls of mechouia – grilled tomatoes, onions and green peppers finely diced, almost to a paste, and all drowning in olive oil. It was served with hunks of baguette and a bowl of fiery harissa, which seems to serve as a seasoning.
Then the meat arrived from a smoking barbecue. First up, sheep’s livers – a particular weakness of mine. Sweet, but with a stronger flavour than chicken liver, perfect with a squeeze of lemon. Next came blackened cutlets which were beautifully pink inside. Then came the, erm, testicles (or fries if you must). I can report that the flavour was rather mild, but the soft, spongey texture was decidedly disagreeable. All served with a bowl of fantastically crispy chips.
So the next time I see a sheep’s carcase strung up by the side of the road, I will almost certainly stop.