I am slowly moving towards another momentous step in my life with the possible purchase of a spectacular plot of land in Sicily where I will build my dream home. Well, perhaps not quite a dream house but certainly one with a separate laundry room and cinema room, and with gorgeous views whichever way I turn, although perhaps not as varied as those on Mary Taylor Simeti’s farm where I am spending more and more time getting used to life in Sicily. And one way of getting used to life in a new country is to cook the local food which I did recently, grilling stigghiole (baby lamb’s intestines) with Mary and Tonino, her lovely husband. I should really be frank here and admit to having done nothing apart from watching them do the grilling.
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.
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!
On 8 May I will be teaming up with Stevie Parle at the Dock Kitchen for a lamb nose to tail dinner. The evening will start with the acceptable face of offal: a welcome drink served with delicious chicken wings marinated in Aleppo pepper, allspice, Lebanese 7-spice mixture and cinnamon, lemon juice and olive oil and roasted in the restaurant’s tandur oven. For starters, we will offer a mini offal mezze: poached lamb’s tongues stuffed with pistachios and served on a bed of lemony mixed leaves and herbs (I learned the recipe at one of Aleppo’s best restaurants, Zmorod); lamb’s kidney baked inside a potato (I found the recipe in Ambrose Heath‘s Meat); and Jerusalem Mix bruschetta (Sami Tamimi gave me the recipe when I was writing Mediterranean Street Food, initially a sandwich, I have smartened it up into a bruschetta for the dinner).