Eating and Drinking, Cairo
Umm Ali dates back to Ottoman Egypt and legend say that sultan stopped in a poor village looking for something to eat and the village's best cook, named Umm Ali, made something.
This is in fact light fluffy pastry bathed in sweet milk sprinkled with dried fruits and nuts.
It was my favorite.
It's not safe to drink from the tap. You can buy bottled mineral water, which is very much available everywhere in shops and hotels.
It cost about 6EP to 10 EP for one large bottle in hotels, and 1.5 EP to 2EP if you buy from shops.
The brands that i took were Nestle and Baraka.
Some of my tour mates boiled the mineral water but i didn't. It's not really necessary. But it really depends on your comfort level.
But one thing to be careful, check out the seal of the bottles and the cap, make sure it has not been opened yet. Esp with soft drinks glass bottles.
Favorite thing: Well you can’t go to Egypt and not at least try a shisha. Prices vary from LE6 to LE12 depending on where you are. We liked the apple one best. It is very nice to sit down with a drink after dinner and a shisha to wind down after a long day of sightseeing.
While we were in Egypt the Muslim community were in the middle of Ramadan. We had heard that it could cause problems with our tour or that we may not get to eat because of Ramadan but really we didn't have any problems at all because of it.
The locals did seem to go a bit crazy around 4:30 - 5:30 pm when they ALL seemed to be on the road travelling home or to where ever they would eat their "break-fast" but it didn't affect us too much. We also found a lot of locals eating in the streets and enjoying each others company. It was nice to see!
A couple of nights we also joined our tour guide (a local Egyptian) for his "break-fast" meal... :)
Fondest memory: I went to a sweets shop that sold arabic sweets. I asked the price and I was told that it'd be around 3USD. I assumed that is per piece (that would be the price here in the States). After I picked out a few sweets (harissa, baklawa), the total cost was less than 25 cents! It turned out the price was per kilogram!!!
Small juice bars are everywhere in Cairo and should not be missed. They offer a variety of juices, either freshly juiced to order or in the case of out-of season fruits, made up from a sirop. My favorite, and popular with Cairenes too, is 'nus bi nus' (half and half), a mixture of orange and carrot. Another drink often to be found is made from sugar cane...as you might expect it is sweeter than sweet.
There's a system in many of them: you pay one person who then gives you a token which to hand over to the man actually responsible for producing your juice. Prices will generally be on display: generally between 1 and 5 LE ,depending on the fruit.
The cautious should disregard all the rubbish you hear about Cairo water ('and even keep sure you keep your mouth shut when showering'.....puh-lease). Yes they use tapwater. No you won't catch anything from it. It's well chlorinated. Not very nice to drink on it's own but perfectly potable.
Pita is the Iconic Flatbread of the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Western China, Mediterranean, Balkans, The Levant, Central Asia and Even North Africa. Pita is the most famous slightly leavened flatbread in the world and is one of my favorites. It is the staple of the cuisines mentioned above and is also served during breakfast, lunch and dinner, here in Egypt and with the associated mezze platters. Pita bread with the assorted mezze plater dips is a meal in itself and you can be full eating eat even before the main course arrives. Pita Bread comes in assorted sizes, thickness and shapes, with some very flat and some very thick and round.
you can get it for free at the full service middle eastern restaurants as an accompaniment for the main course or at buffets or buy it at doner sandwiches or as kebab sandwiches or as falafel wraps all around Cairo at LE 20 to 30 per order, depending on the toppings.
according to wikipedia:
Pita is used to scoop sauces or dips such as hummus and taramosalata, and to wrap kebabs, gyros or falafel in the manner of sandwiches. Most pita are baked at high temperatures (450 °F or 232 °C), causing the flattened rounds of dough to puff up dramatically. When removed from the oven, the layers of baked dough remain separated inside the deflated pita, which allows the bread to be opened into pockets, creating a space for use in various dishes.
Fondest memory: pita bread galore
Mezze is a generic term for North African and middle eastern small dishes (similar to the tapas of spain) and includes a wide variety of small platter servings of hummus, tabbouleh, falafel, assorted yogurts (used as dips or snacks, not as a dessert), and lots of other salads and dips. The difference of the Arabic Mezze platter from the mediterranead Mezze platter is that the Arabic Mezze has little or no meat dishes as compared to the mediterranean mezze.
If dining in a buffet breakfast in your local Egyptian Hotel, you would see these mezze platters in the buffet station and also dining at local Egyptian and Lebanese, Turkish, Moroccan Restaurants in Cairo, they include a mini mezze platter as appetizer before the main course.
a word of warning, these mezze platters can be filling especially if added to flat breads and you might be full even before having the main course.
Fondest memory: assorted mezze's are yummy
Favorite thing: egyptian cuisine hews closely to other north african and middle eastern arabic cuisines as most of the population is arabic and there is a large selection of halal meat dishes like beef or lamb or goat or chicken which are fried, stewed, kebab style, shawarma style and the difference with other middle eastern cuisines is that they have a heavy use of legumes, beans and other vegetables as the fertille plains lining the nile river offer them many vegetable options. Sea food is not that popular as it tends to be expensive as only the areas of the south sinai and areas facing the mediterranean have cheap seafood.
like in any country, egypt has lots of snack foods and junk foods present and there is a cornucupia of assorted snack foods which you can buy in and around cairo which are made by local companies, multinational companies and local street hawkers and they range from halal potato chips, nachos, assorted small cakes, yogurts, finger foods, falafel and other snacks like konafah, dukah, halawa and more. prices vary on the packaging and the kind of snack made.
Fondest memory: lots of snack foods in Cairo.
Me laisser happer par la vie trépidante du Caire, et la quitter régulièrement pour me rendre dans le Sinaï.
Fondest memory: Cairo is full of life, positive and negative energy, Cairo never sleep.
Le Caire est un concentré de vie en tout genre, une ville géante pleine de contraste, qui ne dort jamais.
La poir is French patisserie very best of Egyptian and Oriental baking
one of the best food chains in Egypt
Fondest memory: very good French pastries it was Eid and we enjoyed the traditional Kahk!
Fondest memory: Their 'naan' like bread is simply delicious. Cooked in a domed-like oven, these puffy 'naan' goes extremely well with some Egytian curry.
Favorite thing: Smoking flavored tobacco from a water pipe while having some peppermint tea is very relaxing. it costs $1 or so.