Tripolitanian cuisine in Tel Aviv

Libya is an artificial country, so they don’t call it Libyan food, even though the restaurant is run by “Libyan” Jews.

Odelia, Ben Yehuda 89, Tel Aviv.  The “Hrime” is pieces of snapper in an excellent red pepper sauce, very spicy and tasty.  Eggplant Mafrom, with root vegetables, is recommended too.  It’s also an excellent neighborhood for walking.

There are a number of Tripolitanian places in Tel Aviv.


Libya is an artificial country, he said while in Israel.

Or in pretty much any country.

TC's recent thoughts on Catalonia, Scotland, Palestine and Libya suggest that white people's countries are territorially sacrosanct, while Muslims' countries are uniquely artificial and ideal for carve-ups.

You mean you aren't interested in what the food tastes like?

Food by any other name (than Libyan) would taste just as.... middle eastern?

Or is 'middle eastern' too artificial a region to describe its food thusly?

Nah. "Mediterranean" is usually what it's called, which is nicer than saying "ex-Ottoman Empire".

And Italy and Spain became part of the Ottoman Empire when? And let us not forget Portugal or sourthern France either.

On average smaller Muslim nations are better governed than larger Muslim nations. E.g. Dubai is much better run than Egypt. Jordan is better run than Pakistan. Oman is better than Nigeria.

While smaller Western countries tend to be slightly better run, there simply isn't a huge difference between Luxembourg and Germany. Therefore one would conclude that carving up Arab countries will produce much better governance outcomes.

Do we really know that Dubai and Oman are well run? They happen to have a lot of oil money relative to their populations, which masks a lot of the problems caused by poor governance. Without oil money, the UAE and Oman are....Yemen.

Only if one were wilfully ignorant. I'm sorry, but this unquestioning attitude to a correlation despite evidence of your high intelligence is a symptom of wilful ignorance.

Dubai isn't a nation...

The emirates are basically 7 sovereign countries that share a common foreign policy and have open borders with each other. Abu Dhabi has no input into Sharjah's internal policy nor do they share any revenue or spending with each other.

Abu Dhabi has the oil. So it controls everything else. Dubai tried to do its thing, went bankrupt, and now its back to the fold. The fact that the Brits let their local rajas control some domestic policies in India didnt mean that territories outside of direct rule were 'independent'

That doesn't make Dubai a nation.

Only if you have an ax to grind and see everything through the lens of your bias. Palestine is not and has never been a country at all. Libya became a country in the 1950's and was mostly controlled by a minority ethnic population to the great misfortune of the majority. "White" countries, such as Spain and Scotland have deep roots going back hundreds of years. Thus, I would indeed say that Palestine and Libya are quite a bit more artificial than Scotland and Spain.

Nevertheless, I have not heard Tyler calling for a forced carve-up of any country. Simply giving an opinion as to the viability of independence for a proposed nation hardly seems to be an argument that white people are inherently superior to Muslims, as you seem to claim.

Artificial means people made it, not that it is young. You seem to be arguing that institutions are more natural and better if they are older, but I'm sceptical of any simplistic argument that could be used to defend slavery.

I imagine Tyler doing a little fist pump when he reads this.

"White people's" ? Catalonia? Scotland?

Can you get any more simplistic?

I can't see any better explanation, that's all.

Normally the claim is the post-colonial Western nations tried to amalgamate countries together which were comprised of people without a sense of nationhood, for their own benefit... Now the claim is Western people trying to split countries up for their own benefit...

Of course, I don't think TC is really a disinterested, purely altruistic observer (and you can hardly weight his briefly considered opinion *that* heavily), but he's probably thinking a bit more long term and positive sum than "Carve up for resources or short term benefits".

"Normally the claim is the post-colonial Western nations tried to amalgamate countries together which were comprised of people without a sense of nationhood, for their own benefit"

Not really, no. "Divide and conquer" was always the saying, wasn't it?

There is economic evidence that African borders, for instance, are essentially random, and do not reflect optimisation by European colonists.

Italy might also be said to be an artificial country, and some people from there would prefer to call their restaurants Venetan or Sicilian, which transmits more information.

So the second thing I would want to know (the first is what the food tastes like) is whether Cyrenaican restaurants serve other dishes than Tripolitanian?

Yes, you are correct. It matters more in big, continental-sized countries. There isn't much stopping Sicilians from eating Lombard recipes, except personal preference. In contrast, there is a reason why key lime pie arose in the Southern United States. And Chinese cuisine is so strikingly different across the regions.

And, of course, every country is artificial. None of them was created by a god (not even Israel or America).

Libya is an artificial country.
Which countries are not artificial?

Quit being pedantic. If you can't see a difference in the cultural cohesion between Japan and say the former Yugoslavia than you aren't paying attention.

How is it pedantic to discuss what words actually mean? "Artificial" is being used by TC and others to elide the question of Muslim countries' self-identity with the question of Muslim countries' cuisines. One may as well use Cantonese or Szechuan restaurants to imply that China is an artificial country.

It's pedantic because it should be obvious to all why Libya is artificial and China is not. One hint: borders imposed on it by a colonial power.

Manchuria's borders where imposed on it by a colonial power. China.

Going back to the food, Tel Aviv has excellent sephardic jewish restaurants. I went to one near the beach front (on the recommendation of a v. sophisticated French sephardic jewish colleague). We ate an entire foie gras that had been barbecued on a skewer. I thought I was going to have a heart attack but it was an incredible meal. The only downside was the owners Arab (really muslim Arab, after all he is an Arab!) hating artwork. He had plenty of posters praising George Bush's gulf war.

Libya is an artificial country, or if you want to put it that way its more artificial than normal.

Tripoletania and Cyrenaica are a fair distance apart, and were always governed separately until the nineteenth century. Even when under the rule of the Romans and the Arab Caliphate, they were in separate provinces/ emirates (and when the Romans used larger units they were still separate). When not independent, Tripoletania was attached to Tunisia, and Cyrenaica was attached to Egypt or to Greece.

Turkey established or re-established direct rule of both places in the 1830s, while the other parts of North Africa that had (purely nominal) allegiance to the Sultan fell under British or French influence. Italy went to war to take over Tripoletania and Cyrenaica in 1911 as part of their policy at the time to acquire any colonies the stronger European powers had left over.

So this is really another case of boundaries being drawn as part of nineteenth century European colonization, based almost entirely on European political and diplomatic considerations. A more "natural" arrangement would probably have Tripoletania as part of Tunisia, and Cyrenaica as part of Egypt, or maybe independent and united with Malta.

The objection that all countries are artificial is ridiculous. The process by which Libya was created is qualitatively different than the process by which, for example, France was created. We would expect cohesiveness to be shallower, even compared to neighboring Tunisia.

I guess it seems, in retrospect, obvious that places like Brittany, Catalonia, and Nice are "naturally" part of France, but that certainly was not always the case. Or even more recently, Alsace.

The difference is that France is an artificial country whose borders were determined a long time ago. Libya is an artificial country whose borders were determined recently.

Probably the only "natural" countries are small, isolated, culturally & linguistically homogenous islands. So Iceland.

Iceland has been independent for less than a century, which isn't old enough to make it The God-Given Truth. It looks so much cooler on my Risk board when it's the same colour as Denmark!

The USA is an artificial country. Some people decided that some British colonies should be a country. Israel is an artificial country for the same reason. Yet, we are expected to accept the description of some other countries as "artificial", with the heavy implication that someone who isn't human made the rest.

Then we get lectures on which boundaries should really be there, by white Western guys who played too much Risk as kids.

Like, if you guys had a salient point here, wouldn't Libya look like the Balkans right now, with rival governments administrating their regions? One for each kind of cuisine?

The argument that "old institutions are better" worked fantastically well to justify slavery, it's working for marriage, and it's generally a great way to short-circuit logical arguments by appealling to the intellectual superiority of ancient, less-educated generations.

Tyler, there was no Israel before 1948 so why not call it artificial?

Maybe because that's not the topic of the post? You will note that he does not make reference to "Israeli food" which does not exist for exactly the reason you mention?

Today Israeli food of course does exist.

On Rue de Rosiers in Paris, non-Jewish young French cosmopolitans dine at L'as du Falafel and La Pita and think that they are eating traditional "Jewish food" but of course they are not.

Cowen's first sentence was that Libya was an artficial country. That artificiality was something he clearly wanted to highlight.

Because Israel more-or-less successfully existed as a nation for almost 3000 years, merely without a defined geographic border for just under 1900 of those years.

Or, to take it to another level of abstraction, "nation" can mean either "a distinct collection of people" or "a certain set of lines drawn on a map."

Israel is artificial in the second sense, but natural in the first.

Back to the food again: ate at Odelia a couple of times on some trips to Tel Aviv earlier this year and loved it. The food was delicious and the staff were very friendly; both times they gave us free bits of food to try or a drink, and seemed like they genuinely wanted us to enjoy things.
Apparently they've reprinted the menus except for the Russian one, so the numbers don't match up any more, so had to attempt to translate for some Russian tourists because the Russian-speaking staff weren't working that night

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