EG - The offerings of the desert
What kind of food can you expect in Egypt?
|Fried bananas and ice cream!|
Then the painting is a mass of savory foods. A fried cheese called Sambousek that is so salty it tastes of the great Red Sea itself. A different flavoring to hummus graced each restaurant you wandered into. Egypt has no issue with creating many styles of food with what I had imagined was a small ingredient base.
|Hummus, and a very content kitty!|
Egyptian hospitality is unmatched by any place I've been yet. Many of the finer restaurants served 5 dips as appetizers, offered with freshly baked pita puffed up and glistening with oil. In places like Dahab, this could cost 5$ USD for a meal that included more food than you can eat. In places like Luxor on the West Bank of the Nile, the tourism is less and the streets are more quiet. Prices tend to reflect that as well. Each meal typically was followed up with Bedouin tea which is a specialty in the region and is made from aromatic herbs such as sage, mint, ceylon, marmaraya, thyme, and habuck. Marmaraya and Habuck are specifically desert herbs and they really make this tea unique. Hibiscus is another commonly served drink and often was on the house where ever we went.
|Enjoying Hibiscus tea while we watch a papyrus demonstration on how the paper is made.|
|Mixed vegetables and dip, along with potatoes in a seasoning sauce, pita bread, rice, and more. All included in our dish selection for 4 USD!|
What makes travel special to me is the cuisines in other countries. Not to mention that with the cuisine there is always so much culture attached. In Luxor the West bank is not built up and is mostly villages. We watched goats being herded along the dirt roads and sugar cane being carried on small wooden carts by donkeys. Horses and cows were not common.
These larger animals were both more expensive and needed much more food to maintain. Sheep and goats were the main sources of dairy, and they were quite salty. The easiest meats appeared to be fish, chicken, lamb, and goat. Each had a high progressively higher price tag.
|5 types of dips included at most restaurants along the beach front in Dahab.|
Its easy to come to the conclusion that this is because there was a very distinct line where the fertile Nile River ended and the open desert of the Sahara began. The smaller the livestock, the less resources are needed to produce it.
|The Nile River valley|
The availability of food sources, as well as transport options is what brings together dishes to your table. I was nothing short of amazed at the variety of foods in the various parts of Egypt. I had come here with some preconceived notions on the availability of many things. I did not expect that I would have so much access to dairy. It hadn't occurred to me how much of anything survived the Sahara. Nor did I truly understand what kind of life source the Nile River is to the Egyptian people until I saw it overhead. It truly has reason to be worshiped.
|A delicious combination of potatoes, vegetables and dip.|
Egypt has found a way to delight your tastebuds with a combination of savory and salty- and even sweet treats for desert. I have to say the traditional breakfasts might be my favorite though. In all of the places we stayed, a traditional breakfast included fresh cheese, pita bread, yogurt with honey and preserves to flavor it, hibiscus tea or juice and a variation such as foul (a dish made of fava beans and spices) or falafel. Sometimes there was fresh fruit like bananas included.
|Fresh pita bread and goat cheese, with tea.|
I may have gotten hooked on how well done the breakfasts were. Not to mention that every place we stayed included free breakfast...
|This place in Cairo had laughing cow cheese, I was delighted to have some cow's cheese!|
|Fresh goat cheese, tea, and pita bread!|
And don't get me started on the views we enjoyed at breakfast- Not to mention the total cost of accommodation. That's to come later! But may I say, each of this was less than 30$ each per night for us. If that's above the budget you're planning then no worries, that cost is mostly for the view you're getting- Look at these views I had during my breakfast!
|The Nile River, as viewed from our hotel on the West Bank in Luxor.|
|The pyramids towering in the background while I enjoy my breakfast on the top floor of the hostel.|
If you're on the fence about a trip to Egypt I recommend just throwing your indecision to the wind and going. The food alone is worth a trip and the hospitality is unbeatable. I promise you won't regret it.