Food, eating habits and cusine of Mauritania

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Mauritania's cuisine is as varied as the country itself and its various influences from over centuries of caravans during the Trans-Saharan trade.

  First off, the Mauritanians are tea drinkers. The practice of drinking tea has always been popular with the nomads, as it suits their lifestyle quite perfectly. Always on the go and traveling from one caravan city to the next, drinking tea for the nomads is the ultimate ritual of welcoming, relaxation and negotiation. Not just any ritual, the Mauritanians have always believed the tea leaves as having special properties that assuage hunger, fatigue and thirst. The Mauritanians always fondly say that the first glass is bitter like life, the second strong like love and the third suave like death.  

Their tea ceremony involves three conditions, of the famous Three Js. The Jmari is the embers under the teapot. The Jar is the slow process of infusing the tea leaves, and serving and drinking. Lastly the Jmaa, is the people who will partake of the tea.

The Arab Bedouins introduced to them milk, bread and dates, which, up to present day, remain to be their staple food. The Moors, naturally, introduced Andalusian cuisine, which included olives and olive oil, nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts, and aromatic herbs. The Arabs, in turn, further improved Moor cooking with their spices.

It is not surprising, therefore, that their cuisine varies from one region to another. The northwestern region, since mostly are fishermen, has a rare delicacy famous to Europeans--the botarga, from smoked mullet eggs. The Mauritanians' national foods are the kuskus, maru we-llham, or rice and meat cooked with butter, and al mechwi, or meat cooked in the sand.

Dates are a significant part of their cuisine, and it is interesting to note that the Mauritanians consume all their produced dates and do not export any.

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