Food in Egypt: Travel Thoughts 4

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© irene waters 2018

As we drove past the piles of rubbish on the way to lunch our guide warned us about eating Egyptian food – putting the disclaimer that anywhere he took us was quite safe to eat everything but we should avoid lettuce until we had acclimatised to the food. He told us that if we did have a problem there would be no need to suffer as he had medication that would block us up, unblock us and stop us throwing up.

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© irene waters 2018

The difference between the outside and the inside of the place we ate the first day was a stunning contrast. Here we had  an Egyptian smorgasbord. I ate everything, as did most other people. It reminded me of a Mediterranean diet with lots of tomato, egg plant and olives. There were all kinds of meat  and falafel. The kebabs were done on a barbecue. Although it was quite edible it was nothing out of the ordinary.

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© irene waters 2018

We were up early for the trip to Alexandria. The hotel had decided to open the restaurant early  instead of giving us a box of pre packed goodies. I prefered the look of the fairy floss crossing the bridge across the Nile in the early morning mist to anything the hotel was offering for breakfast.

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© irene waters 2018

We got down early only to find the hotel had forgotten to tell the kitchen we were coming to breakfast early.`

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Eventually the food came out only to find that there was nothing there I fancied.

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© irene waters 2018

We ate at Swiss Restaurants, Italian and many that didn’t have a set nationality. None were Egyptian but all had an Egyptian flare and most gave a choice of beef or chicken. None were worth writing home about but they were all okay.

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© irene waters 2018

Breakfast at the Cecil Hotel in Alexandria gave us the best breakfast. The strawberry juice was delicious and everything top notch with a feel for a colonial era past.

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© irene waters 2018

The honey was served in a way I’d not encountered anywhere else in my life – dripping directly from the honeycomb into a bowl at the base. If I could have had every breakfast during our trip here I would have been in heaven

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© irene waters 2018

Once we boarded the boat we had every meal in the ship’s dining room. It was always a smorgasbord and always had a dish of each type of meat, a carvery, vegetables a salad bar and a bread table with a variety of different breads.  Potato was the only item that you could say was superb – the rest mediocre at best. The deserts were strange to say the least. Everything we recognised but none with the taste of consistency of the item we had thought it to be. After a couple of days there was a sameness to the meals and although they were more than edible we found we were decreasing our portion size. Until the Egypt night came along.

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© irene waters 2018

We all filled our plates to the brim with food that we don’t normally eat.

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We did experience a high tea at the hotel, The Old Cataract Hotel, where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile.  It was superb and if it wasn’t for manners preventing me I would have eaten a stand by myself.

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© irene waters 2018

The hotels dining room was in stark contrast to

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two local kitchens we  were priviledged to see in a Nubian Village.

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© irene waters 2018

In summary I would suggest that you don’t travel to Egypt for the food. Although we didn’t eat at street vendors and only restaurants recommended to us, having seen the hanging meat without refrigeration I would not have been tempted. The food we did have was extremely edible and plenty of it however there was little variety in the dishes. Let’s face it though – Egypt is not about the food but rather the antiquities that were jaw dropping in their magnificence.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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16 Responses to Food in Egypt: Travel Thoughts 4

  1. Cubby says:

    Truly fascinating. My travels usually revolve around food, so it is a little disheartening to hear the recommendation not to travel to Egypt for the food, but it looks like you managed to find some tasty eats, especially at The Old Cataract Hotel. I love afternoon tea. Love all the pictures and descriptions! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your last comment, that you don’t travel to Egypt for the food but for the antiquities, is really interesting. I suspect you ate much better than most of the locals. Did you encounter anything considered a national dish?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure we ate better than the locals Sharon. The local Egyptian diet is predominantly vegetarian with lots of beans and falafel, tomatoes and olive oil, rice, lentils and chickpeas. What is considered the national dish is called koshari and we had it at our Egyptian nights and possibly the first day (but I was unaware of it) and is made of a mix of rice, lentils and chickpeas and pasta with a topping based on tomato.

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  3. ksbeth says:

    it sounds as if you found your food jewels mixed within, and had a lovely visit. all good )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree Egyptian food isn’t as interesting as say Indian, but I enjoyed most of what I eat there. I was lucky enough to stay with locals in Cairo and was invited to eat in other people’s homes in a couple of places, and I also enjoyed street food, particularly mashed beans in pitta bread for breakfast. I think it’s generally easier and safer if, like me, if you don’t eat meat. Both were definitely agree you don’t go there for the food. Happy New Year, Irene.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you finally found something you liked to eat. Food is a challenge when we travel. You’re prepared to dress in style!!

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    • I am not a fussy eater at all which makes it easy to travel and I have a cast iron stomach which makes me less inclined to get sick. In fact I have never had food poisoning when I’ve travelled but I do use a bit of common sense. Hope you enjoyed your travels Miriam. Are you home yet? Happy New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Irene, we have been in Hong Kong for 4 days, arrived on the 10th, the wedding is on the 19th, we’re going to Japan from 20th to 25th. Home on the same day, 25th. You’re fortunate to be able to eat all kinds of food without getting. You’re made to travel.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I am lucky. Enjoy the wedding and Japan. It is on my list of places to visit so will be interested in your thoughts.
        I spent three weeks in Hong Kong just after it returned to the Chinese. If my memory is right you were born there? I bet you can see big changes as probably I would also.

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      • Yes, a lot of changes. I can’t recognize many places, but many names of streets are the same so I try to remember what they were like before.

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  6. Pingback: Were the Pyramids everything I expected: Travel Thoughts 5 | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

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