On the road, the days are long, the traffic is bad, and we don’t necessarily have time for a meal. I’ll scarf down a falafel or kebab wrap when possible, but in the Egyptian heat, sometimes a cold drink is all you have the time (and the appetite) for!
Quite possibly the perfect calorie bomb is the date shake – blended Egyptian dates, milk, and either ice or ice cream to freeze it up. These aren’t just Egyptian… they’re also pretty popular in parts of California. But Egyptian dates are plentiful and delicious and the shake is just barely sweet, with a hint of caramel. Lunch, sorted.
Cairo’s Khan el-Khalili souk (bazaar) is one of my favorite places in town, though it’s desperately short of tourists these days. (Leaving mainly ME as a target for the vendors shouting, “Hey lady, I can help you get rid of your money!”… a sales pitch that always cracks me up).
Deep in the warren of shops and hidden staircases is El Fishawy, a coffee shop that has been serving Egyptians for two centuries. Waiters point you to a table and a mishmash of benches, stools, and rickety old chairs, and you enjoy your mint tea or coffee amid the bustle of rug sellers, scarf hustlers, and bearers of bric-a-brac. After a day of caffeination, though, the “lemon with mint” drink is a sweet alternative – tart, sugary, and just what the doctor ordered to cool down.
I last wandered the souk in October, and since then the vendors have really upped their cotton candy game, spinning elaborate flowers with brightly colored petals. I didn’t buy one, because I’m not 6 years old. But at least I can appreciate the effort!