Eat Your Way through Egypt with Me!

My first travel post received little attention, if any – I was so pleasantly surprised at how well received my last travel post was! I don’t know if all my fellow world travellers were online that day or if you guys were just hungry, haha, but I’ll take it! On my last post I promised you that I would take you to Egypt next to check out the food there.
I had the opportunity to go to Egypt before Mubarak’s regime fell, and I’m so thankful that my trip occurred when it did. Egypt is an amazing country full of life and culture, and it makes me so sad to see the headlines regarding the country’s troubles now.

Like Peru, Egypt afforded me the chance to try many foods and spices new to me. I was ready to eat everything! Ready see some of what my group spotted and sampled? You might want to grab a snack if you’re feeling hungry!

This view greeted us everywhere – fresh fruits and vegetables on every corner, on homemade stands or being pulled on carts. Remember kids, only eat fruit you can peel or wash with clean (bottled) water when you’re overseas!

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Fun little treats were also a common sight. Are they sandwiches? Are they pastries? We weren’t quite sure, but some had meat on them. Let me tell you this much – it’s hella hot in Egypt in the summer. Would you eat meat that had been sitting on a sidewalk stand on no ice all day? Me neither. I skipped on this one.

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Our breakfast every day looked like a mish mash to us, but I suppose it was a fairly typical Egyptian breakfast. Coffee, OJ, hardboiled eggs, pastries…plus warm cucumber slices, hard cheeses, some kind of mashed potato with molasses, and a fried bean patty with sesame seeds on top. All part of a healthy, balanced meal?

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The streets were my favorite place to look for foods. You could see things like…

Nom nom nom

very fresh meat. Just, ya know, hanging in the heat. Or you might see…

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spices, starfish, and boxed treats. Tell you what, that Egyptian food was very flavorful and these spices are the reason! You may also see some interesting signs…

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Would you like some coffee black? Some coffee white? Some hibiscus? I wanted to try the hibiscus but ran out of time in that little shop. I don’t know if I would’ve gotten my moneys worth though – I had ordered a grilled cheese and got a piece of cheese on bread. Very basic, with minimal grilling.

Now this sounds so touristy, but one of my favorite places to go overseas is the local fast-food corners or shopping malls. What?! What cultural food can be found there?? Uh, plenty. First of all, I love foreign McDonalds. In Peru I ordered a McPollo (McChicken) simply because I was so delighted by the name translation; in Egypt I came close to ordering a McArabia but couldn’t tell what was on it in the picture and no one understood the question. The Egyptian Pizza Hut was offering a “Taste of America” pizza. What does America taste like? I didn’t tase it, but I sure checked out the signs – apparently our glory is summed up in a pizza loaded with meats and with little pockets around the edge, each containing a meatball or lump of cream cheese. Tasty, eh? But how could I say no to ice cream -

This snazzy looking cone was equally delicious

This snazzy looking cone was equally delicious

plus I got a soda -

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Ready for some more authentic food? Well, alright.

First up, koshary (or kushari). Koshary is dirt cheap and filling. I think it cost the equivalent of like 50 American cents and it makes you feel like you just ate a brick, albeit a delicious one. This traditional meal is a bowl full of macaroni, spaghetti (yes, and macaroni), lentils, rice, chickpeas, fried onions, and garlic. It also comes with a spicy tomato chili sauce, which we got on the side. Why? Because it’s freakin hot. The people who make the koshary whip all the ingredients together into the bowl when you order and rumor is that no two places make it quite the same taste-wise. You might want to pop a breath mint after this dish.

Koshary

Next up is falafel. Falafel is a patty of chickpeas and/or fava beans. The patty is fried and then put into a pita or flatbread with salads, vegetables, and sauce. It’s like a bean and greens sammich.

This is my falafel. It's full of...falaf.

One night we ate dinner with the Bedouin people, who graciously cooked for us. What did they cook? We had no idea – language barrier problems. “What kind of meat is this?” “…meat.” “Yes, but what kind? From what animal?” “Eat, it’s good for you.” “…Okay.” It turns out we had vegetables, amazing handmade pitas with tahini, chicken, and lamb. Maybe beef? Who knows. And who cares, those Bedouin people know what they’re doing when it comes to cooking.

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Lastly, Egyptian pizza. No meatballs or cream cheese here! Just confusion. We first ordered a pizza (right) and got a plain looking pastry with some cheese scrapings on top. Turns out it was like a pizza pocket – the pizza was inside a flaky pastry! But no Italian-style sauce here. Our pizza pocket opened up to reveal gooey and hard-sliced cheeses with diced tomatoes. It was good! We finished with a dessert pizza (left) out of sheer curiosity. It turns out it was the same pastry pocket, but this one was filled with cream and bananas with powdered sugar on top. Delish!

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We also tried schwarma but I can’t find my picture of it  :(   Restaurants or vendors rub meat (lamb, goat, beef, or chicken) with spices and then slow roast it on a spit. When you order your schwarma, they chip the meat (or multiple meats) off the spit onto a roll and then top it with some vegetables, garlic, and spices. It then may be dipped into grease like mine was, which made me so sick after I ate it. Maybe that’s why I can’t find the picture – my body still remembers, haha. I also cleaned the local convenience stores out of all their cookies and crackers (not pictured). They were just so good and I had never seen any of them before. Granted, I couldn’t read the descriptions, but those little treats certainly lived up to the pictures on the packaging. I also ate my body weight in Crunchy Cheetos whenever I felt a little homesick. No big deal.

I think I got a good taste of Egypt! My only foodie regret? We didn’t get to try the local delicacy, stuffed pigeon. No way I’d try an American version of that unless it was at a super-swanky restaurant! So which looks tastier – Peruvian or Egyptian food?

 

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