Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Cuisine of Cairo = Koshary?

In the hour it took to get to our hotel we saw some strange sights from the car window. Amongst them were:

  • A man in his little hatchback with a motorbike taking up the rest of the space in the car
  • Donkeys pulling carts barely holding the weight of their load holding up the traffic
  • Clinically insane pedestrians such as families of seven people dodging and weaving through the hectic traffic altogether

It was a sensory overload; it made your head dizzy trying to take in everything at once. For a Northern African city of approximately 17 million people, with a such a contrasting culture to any other that we had experienced so far, I'm not surprised at the extent of our wonderment.

Another not so amusing sight (and smell!) you would come across very often is smoking, everyone in Egypt smokes, constantly. They smoke in their vehicles (thank god we ordered a car or I would’ve been stuck in a smoky taxi for over an hour), they smoke inside restaurants, in shops, museums, everywhere! I felt like I was put into a time warp where smoking was still allowed and the stale cigarette smell is a common occurence. Not only do they smoke cigarettes, but there are sisha cafes everywhere, a lot of them men’s only affairs where they meet up to socialise over sisha. Smoking in any form is big in Egypt.

Melon sisha

On the way to the hotel we wanted to try the local food, so we asked our guide to help us find some. I had done some research and in particular wanted to try Koshary which is a mix of pasta, lentils, chickpeas and onions. We bought a serving each which only cost approx AUD$5! We also received two bags of sauce each, one was spicy tomato and the other one was some sort of vinegar mix.


I was surprised that this strange mix of ingredient actually tasted really good! The tomato and pasta of course went well together, with the lentils and chickpeas adding a nice texture along with the crunch of the fried onions. It was lucky we did like the Koshary as we would encounter quite a lot during our 2 week stay. Unfortunately the rest of the food in Egypt was less than inspiring, it was hard to find any good restaurants with quality food.

Koshary condiments

We were set to meet the rest of our Gecko’s tour group the next night at a group meeting. Unfortunately we were a little late as I forgot to change the time on everything! Luckily we didn’t miss much and we had a run through about what we would expect on our 12 day stay. I was so restless with excitement because I just couldn’t wait until we could begin to see some sights. So we decided to book in an optional extra to see the first pyramids of Memphis and Saqqara the next day.

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