Egyptian Food

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALike any crossroads culture, Egyptian cuisine has picked and 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.

Hotels we have selected will offer meals well prepared of various styles . To eat “real,” you have to eat “street.” And Egypt is a culinary adventure. “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 and sometimes pidgeon. You see  a lot of cows but they seem to serve more as farm equipment than beef.

Spices_TThe  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. So you can stuff your own       sandwich if you want. 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.

Egyptians have embraced the tomato and we never had one that wasn’t bursting with color and flavor. The traditional  and ubiquitous salad is chopped tomato, coriander, mint, little hot green       peppers (not jalapenos but close) and onions, coated with garlic oil. It’s  great for digestion but death on the breath. Bring mints. 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEggplant, mashed as the main ingredient in  babaganoush, is also used in Egyptian moussaka with a mild white cheese.   Okra, cabbage, cauliflower and potatoes show up frequently, stewed with       tomatoes and garlic. Rice is a universal constant and was consistently  wonderful, even for breakfast! The grains mix short basmati-like rice with longer brown, nutty tasting rice and we wish we could have found it to bring back.

Grilled pigeon is the acclaimed delicacy  and like any small game bird is long on flavor but short on ease of  eating. Fish of various sorts is common.

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.

MSEugenie09_TMiddle Eastern desserts are nice but modest in variety; they do bake but, to the Western taste, figs, date and nut  fillings in largely unsweetened dough isn’t a dessert!  Better to eat the  fresh figs, dates (of which there must be 200 different types and grades), oranges and pomegranates without baked modifications.  Speaking of  fruit, juice bars abound in the streets and fresh squeezed oranges  sweetened with cut sugar cane is heaven in a hot climate.

Beverages? Alcohol is available on the Nile Cruises and in hotels but not in the street or at most restaurats. There is though a local beer or two and recently we came across Egyptian wine – called of course “Obilisk”!

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