Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Eating Egypt: Day 3 - Cairo and Giza
Three giant pyramids at Giza, all in a row. This was the only place we encountered truly despicable "touts" trying to sell us worthless souvenirs and generally annoying us.
Snack wrappers rest (eternally?) inside an ancient mastaba, or flat-roofed tomb.
1. Breakfast at Hotel President - It turns out that ful's not so good without sauces and spices. I tried it plain and was unimpressed. The unappetizing, grey-centered hard boiled eggs on the buffet were not a high point of the trip, either.
2. At the Giza pyramids for the day, we took sunscreen, sunglasses, bottled water, and this nut and fruit mix, which we'd brought from the US in our luggage. It turned out to be a good snack to eat in sight of the Great Pyramid, Cheops - the last remaining "Wonder" of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
3. Hotel - Goldfish "Mix-Up Adventures" (Parmesan and Xplosive Pizza flavors). Meh.
Let me preface this.
Our cab ride home from the pyramids was something of a headache. We were unable to get an "official" white cab with a meter, so took our chances on an unmetered cabbie who told us (in very little English) that the ride to our hotel would cost LE 15, or just under US$3. I made the mistake, however, of telling him the name of the street we were aiming for - Sharia Taha Hussein. Hearing "Hussein," our driver took us for a ride far, far out of our way, into medieval Cairo. He claimed we wanted to see the Al-Hussein Mosque, and we were unable to convince him otherwise. This meant our cab ride took an extra 45 minutes to an hour -- and cost an extra LE 100! To add injury to insult, I was unable to sit upright during the ride, due to some sort of "poky thing" attached to the inside of the car's back windshield.
When we finally got back to our hotel, I had a bit of a tourist's meltdown. Goldfish "Mix-Up Adventures" Parmesan & Xplosive Pizza served as my accompanying snack. They were disappointing, and lacking in flavor, but were the only other imported edible item (besides the fruit and nuts we'd taken to the pyramids) I had on hand. Mix-Up Adventures, huh? How applicable.
4. Felfela - chicken kebab, tamiya, tahina and bread, eggplant with peppers, lamb (for Dan), hibiscus lemonade, Stella (for Dan), Turkish coffee.
After a nap and a cool-down (and a trip to the mobile phone store for Dan, to buy us a cheap Egyptian phone we could use during the remainder of our vacation), we headed to Felfela in downtown Cairo. Though the restaurant was created, in part, to cater to vegetarians (according to the article, pictured above, which I read in the lobby of the restaurant), there's still plenty of meat on the menu. In fact, the chicken kebab (shish taouk) was some of the best chicken I'd had.
The tamiya were also excellent. These are fried fava bean patties (seen in the top photo above, along with my hibiscus lemonade). They're something like falafel, but I prefer tamiya. In my experience, tamiya are lighter and less dry than falafel.
When it came time to try the Turkish coffee after dinner, I ordered mine ahwaziyada (very sweet). It was also quite spicy, with a strong cardamom flavor. I enjoyed the contents of the tiny cup, but made sure not to drink the thick dregs at the bottom.
Ah, day three! You were a day of grand antiquity, major frustration, and great food (forgetting, for now, the sub-par American Goldfish)! I'm sure I went to bed that night hoping day four might turn out to be less overwhelming, but even tastier. We shall see...