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.
And if you want to buy chicken or pigeon for your meal, the set-up is slightly different from what we are used to in the west. Out there, you walk up to one of the stalls that sells live birds and point to the animal you fancy. The seller will grab the poor creature and first invoke God then slit its throat there and then, before throwing it in a big barrel to let it thrash out its last breath. Not for the faint hearted!
You will also see a lot of offal. Some of it scrubbed very clean and some not so appetising.
You will also see a fair amount of camel meat. I think it was my lovely driver in Aleppo (I hope he and his family are OK) who told me once that all good Muslim men need to eat camel once a year at least, because the animal is monogamous. I am not sure if this is true, or if it is his belief alone or one that is widespread but the camels that I have seen at Shalabi’s Sons, the butcher in the pictures below, seemed quite old and as soon as the camel is no longer milk-fed, the meat tends to be tough, so, I don’t think I would be buying any camel from him. Best to go down to Koshari Street, not only to see how our second day is going to be under the rain but also to have a bowl of koshari for lunch!