We wish that we could talk about all of the unique foods that we discovered while we were in Egypt, but the reality is that we didn’t get too many opportunities. Our first four days were spent on a cruise ship going down the Nile river and all of our meals were provided for us. The food was extremely good, but except for one dinner that focused on Egyptian food, it was pretty generic. We did go out to a couple of local restaurants while we were in Cairo, but we actually found the choices to be somewhat limiting. Our hotel had several restaurants, so we did try a variety of foods at the end of the day after our tours completed, but they were somewhat international in nature. We always try to eat local food whenever possible, so we took advantage of the few opportunities that we had.
We were there just a couple of days before the start of Ramadan, which was fortunate since all of the local restaurants basically close while everyone fasts. One of the things that ate that we really enjoyed was mixed grill, which included beef, chicken, and vegetables. We also enjoyed the wonderful breads along with sesame dips and baba ghanoush, which is made with eggplant and tahini. In general, we didn’t find the food to be as exotic as some of the other places that we have visited. If we had to describe Egyptian food in general it would be that it is mostly based on breads and vegetables.
Although alcohol is not consumed by a majority of people in Egypt, they did have local red and white wine that was actually quite good. We also found a nice lager that was brewed in Egypt that was very refreshing, especially when returning from our tours in the heat of the desert. Of course we also had hibiscus juice and tea as well, which was refreshing as well. There are plenty of coffee houses with really strong, espresso style coffee, and plenty of people smoking shisha (hookah) pipes. One thing that was hard to get used to was the public acceptance of smoking in restaurants. Not only will you find an ashtray on your table, you will likely be surrounded by people smoking cigarettes wherever you go to eat, including the international hotel restaurants.