Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Food, food, food

Today’s blog is a continuation on why I like living in Egypt. Before I get onto the food I forgot a couple of things that are so convenient I’m going to miss them. The first one is that you can have ANYTHING delivered. You’ve just got home and you’re starving but don’t want to cook – no problem, every restaurant delivers, including KFC and McDonalds if you want a Western fast food fix.

There are sometimes slight hiccups to the system, such as the difficulty delivery men encounter on a daily basis finding addresses when there are no addresses. Giving directions in Hurghada is a lot like giving directions in the Australian bush, except instead of ‘turn left at the third tree past the big stump’ it’s more like ‘behind Tez Tours and beside Ada Market’ or something like that. There is frequently a phone call from a delivery man who is hopelessly lost. One time I also had my meal given to a random person on the ground floor of my building because he said he wanted it and paid. It was a long wait for the restaurant to cook a replacement meal and deliver it!

You can also get your medications delivered from the pharmacy, very useful when you are suffering from Pharaoh’s Revenge and have run out of Antinal, or have a migraine and need headache pills. Pretty much, if you need it and don’t want to go out to get it, it will be delivered.

The laundry is great too, they wash and iron even the sheets, which is more than I ever did (iron the sheets that is). So if you hate washing and ironing, just drop your laundry off and pick it up the next day.

OK, now to the food. While there is a lot of food with heavy sauces, in general the food I ate was very healthy, mostly vegetables, pasta and bread, with the occasional grilled chicken. Here is a list of some of my favourite dishes, from savoury to sweet.

Koshary: I love koshary, even though at first it seems to be a strange mixture. Koshary is a blend of rice, pasta, spaghetti, lentils, chick peas, caramelized onions and a spiced tomato sauce. It sounds odd but it’s delicious, and is one of the most common street foods.

Lentil soup: exactly as it sounds, filling and satisfying.

Fattah: Fattah is basically stale bread mixed with rice and topped with a tomato sauce. It can have other things added such as meat, but the one I like doesn’t.

Mashi: Mashi is vegetables stuffed with rice, or cabbage leaves/vine leaves wrapped around a rice stuffing. A mixed mashi plate will have a bit of everything – vine leaves, cabbage leaves, capsicum (pepper for those non Australian readers), zucchini (courgette), and eggplant (aubergine). The rice stuffing has spices added and it’s divine.

Pickles: While these can be a bit of a stomach lottery, the pickled vegetables are also delicious, and the Egyptians pickle things I would never have thought of such as cauliflower and carrot.

Falafal: I haven’t had this often but I have enjoyed it when I did. Falafal is made from chick peas or fava beans, or both. I believe in Egypt it is most commonly made with fava beans. It is nutritious and tasty.

Grilled chicken: I do not know what they do to the chicken, but it is moist and delicious.

Tahini: If you order a meal from a restaurant you will most likely get tahini as well. It’s tasty and versatile, used as a vegetable dip, mixed with rice, smeared on chicken or used as a bread dip.

Baba Ganoush: Baba Ganoush is an eggplant (aubergine) and parsley dip that I adore and will eat with a spoon.

Bread: Bread is a staple, served with every meal. I like both the Egyptian and the Syrian bread. The Syrian bread is softer and whiter than the Egyptian.

 Kunafa: I cannot tell you how much I adore this sweet. The filling varies, but the one I prefer is a cream filling, and the top and bottom are shredded phyllo pastry drenched in rose water. You cannot eat just one piece.

Basboosa: Basboosa is a semolina cake soaked in rose water. I like it, but not as much as kunafa.

Zalabia: Basically pastry balls soaked in rose water or syrup.

Baklava: It’s similar to the Greek version, but a bit less sweet.

Rice Pudding: Yes, it’s rice pudding as you know it, only creamier.

So that’s some of the food I love, there is more but these are the main ones for me. I’m sure some of you reading this are miffed I haven’t included your favourite dish – forgive me, I may have eaten it and just didn’t think of it now! 

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