Today is a momentous day in Egypt. A year to the day since Morsi was elected, and hundreds of thousands are back in Tahrir Square to demonstrate against what many see as his failed presidency and to ask him to leave. Irhal (leave) they are shouting or mish 3ayzinaq (we don’t need you)! Well, I wish I could have been in Cairo now despite the heat instead of a few weeks ago. Would be quite fascinating. Still, it was pretty wonderful then, especially the evening we spent watching Magda cook a few dishes, including mumbar (stuffed ox intestines) and mehshi waraq 3enab (stuffed vine leaves) before feasting on them. We have both dishes in Lebanon but the Egyptian versions are quite different. Read more >
Yesterday was our first day at Koshari Street, an Egyptian inspired vegetarian street food experience, and it was a great day. Everyone loved our koshari except for a few hardened souls (actually two and both male) wanting meat. So, I thought I’d do a post on Cairo butchers. Perhaps our next concept will be inspired by them. Or perhaps not. In any case, for those who crave meat there is plenty of it on the streets of Cairo and in particular all around the beautiful Al-Hussein mosque. It doesn’t take very long before you come across butchers hard at work like the one above, butchering their beef, lamb or camel carcasses in full view of passers-by.
As some of you know, I have written a whole book on Mediterranean street food and while researching it, I tasted almost all there is to taste on the streets of Spain, Italy, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt to name a few of the countries I covered. Most of what I tasted was great. Sometimes delicious and fun and sometimes more fun than delicious. But there were a few specialities I did not take to. In particular pani ca meusa, a greasy sicilian spleen sandwich. Nancy Harmon Jenkins who is one of the great writers on Mediterranean food and a friend couldn’t undrestand my repulsion but as much as I love spleen (my mother makes a divine braised version that I will blog one day that I am with her in Lebanon), I couldn’t see the point of this sandwich. Well, not until another great friend, Mary on whose farm we were staying, sent us to Porta Carbona where not only did I finally discover that a greasy spleen sandwich could be absolutely scrumptious but I was also able to convert Amy to it.
Every now and then I find myself in a rather disgusting food market where I find beauty amongst the horror. A few years ago, it was in Karachi where I couldn’t believe the number of flies swarming inside a tiny fish stall but they looked beautiful against the stone counter and the fish. And again the other day, there was beauty amidst the filth at an offal stall in Sayida Zeynab in Cairo, where I noticed a piece of honeycomb tripe hanging over a red tub with flies feeding on it. Naturally, there was nothing appetising about the scene but the pattern of the pale tripe with the black flies dotted over it was just as beautiful as it was repulsive, so, I took a picture, which I cropped further to add to my edible abstractions series!