I thought I could impress the Egyptians with my ferocious appetite, like I did back home. I failed miserably. There was never a time when my dishes were stacked higher than the locals’ in restaurants. And no wait staff had ever stopped me from ordering more than I thought I could handle. While I struggled to finish my stuffed pigeon, others were already onto their second entrée – grilled lamb shank. When a roast chicken seemed like a challenge, our habibi at the next table had extra sides of meat cutlets and bread. It was a humbling revelation. With a loud belch, I accepted defeat.
Studio Misr was where I had my last dinner here in Cairo. And Egypt. Our order was simple – a starter of rice stuffed vine leaves with olive oil and a main of assorted grilled meats and vegetables.
Stuffed vine leaves - this came with a lemon wedge and tomato salsa, which brought a more refreshing taste and some zest to the otherwise usual rolls.
To quote my friend Toni, Egypt is about the extravagance. Quite right. Just look at our golden charcoal stove. Smoking lightly on top was a myriad of colours and aromas - a piece of culinary art it sure was. Kebab, fofta, ribs, chicken breast, shish tawouk, and served with grilled vegetables and halaby bread. Now, what did I start with?
An hour later, still awing at the sight of tables covered with countless dishes and Cairenes with an enviably healthy appetite, we had to drag our glutted selves back to the apartment, before leaving for the airport.
Dear old Khaleed drove me to the airport that night. Traffic could get ugly, so we left earlier. I was still as fascinated with the surrounding as the time when Khaleed fetched me from the airport.
Funny that when friends asked me about my trip to Egypt, it was not the trinity of glorious Giza pyramids or the innumerable temples of Luxor that I instantly recalled. Instead, I was reminded of the lively streets, the stuffed pigeons, the curious yet fun people and a life that is unfamiliarly similar to mine. It all added up to an unforgettable trip to a North African country that I've been wanting to visit for the longest time. So, Egypt - checked...gladly.
7 days in Egypt:
Pyramids and Mandarins
Kababgy Al Azhar Farahat
Nowhere and Al-Omda
HairyBerry and The Temples of Luxor
Fishawy's Coffeehouse @ Khan al-Khalili