Food

Egypt cuisineEgypt is a culinary adventure. Like any crossroads culture, Egyptian cuisine has chosen those ingredients and food that grow best as well as best meet the flavor and nutritional needs of their people. Bridging Africa and Asia as it does, Egypt has a lot from which to choose.

Tourist hotel meals will offer well prepared meat/vegetable/starch entrees but that’s not the real Egyptian food. To eat “real,” you have to eat “street.” And “Eating street” as we define it, doesn’t confine itself to standup meals from cart vendors - it’s more the everyday cuisine of the everyday person in the street. These everyday Egyptians eat well. Meats are largely grilled or roasted, whole or minced, with lamb and chicken predominating.

The shish kabob style is extremely popular and is served either with or without the skewers but always with traditional accompaniments: greens and tomato salad, tahini sauce and pita bread. Bread is always whole wheat pita, coated with coarse ground wheat, round, fragrant and sheer heaven when hot from the oven. Often pita plus a dipping sauce, tahini, hummus or babaganoush, makes a fast food meal and a healthy, delicious one at that.

The traditional and ubiquitous salad is chopped tomato, coriander, mint, little hot green peppers and onions, coated with garlic oil. Other veggies that grow well and show up all the time include beans, mostly chick pea and fava, which are eaten stewed for breakfast, hearty stewed for lunch and dinner and ground and pasted for tahini and hummus with great amounts of garlic.

Eggplant, mashed as the main ingredient in babaganoush, is also used in Egyptian moussaka with a mild white cheese. Cabbage, cauliflower and potatoes show up frequently, stewed with tomatoes and garlic.

Grilled pigeon is the acclaimed delicacy and like any small game bird is long on flavor but short on ease of eating. Red Sea is famous of great fish experience, both underwater and on the plate.

Of course, when you think “Orient” you think spices. Egyptian bazaars display staggering amounts, sculptured into colorful spice pyramids, from yellows of saffron and ochres of curries to deep blues of powdered indigo dye. Food is usually spices but not spicy. Cumin and salt are found on restaurant tables.

Fresh figs, dates (of which there must be 200 different types and grades), oranges and pomegranates, grapes and melons are great dessert itself. Speaking of fruit, juice bars abound in the streets and fresh squeezed oranges or mango or lemons sweetened with cut sugar cane is heaven in a hot climate. Bakeries offer many different kinds of sweets, from which the most popular is basbusa and baklawa.

Since Egypt is a Muslim country it introduces visitor to many nonalcoholic beverages. Tea is the most popular drink all over the day. It’s often flavored with mint, Bedouin herbs, kardamon and always very sweet. Cold Karkade or Kharub will be surely appreciated during long hot day hours