I always wonder about the American folks that get hamburgers on vacation. I know they exist. Menus everywhere have them. Who are these people? If you’re anything like us, part of experiencing a new country is enjoying their cuisine and getting outside the typical burger or TexMex if you’re from the south.
Egypt is an interesting food culture because you have the convergence of middle east and Mediterranean influences. The history itself spans thousands of years with many different ruling countries and cultures. Check out below some of the popular Egyptian dishes to try on your next vacation the to the world’s oldest civilization:
Crispy skin, delicate meat and stuffed with spiced grains. I’ll make the bold statement to say this was my favorite of the Egyptian food we tried. Ironically it is plated frequently with french fries, but do yourself a favor and do not pass up a chance to try stuffed pigeon.
Feteer Meshaltet served with Molasses and Hummus
Served up as a dish with breakfast, this dish blew our minds. Feteer Meshaltet is a traditional dense pastry that is served with many dips, but most frequently with a dish of molasses topped with hummus or tahini. The pastry itself is incredibly rich, buttery and a great treat. We were stunned to dip it into a massive side dish of molasses! It felt like we were having dessert for breakfast.
This is a similar concept to our Turkish breakfasts or Japanese Kaiseki where you’re served a bunch of smaller dishes that can either be an appetizer or serve as an entire meal. The cool thing about ordering a Mezze Plate at a restaurant is that they each have their own spin on it. Some might be more Mediterranean influences with olives and tomatoes, while others are more middle eastern inspired with tabbouleh and harissa. It will usually always come with pita and many dipping sauces.
You see dolma anywhere the Ottoman Empire was. It is a grape leaf wrapped spiced rice and nuts. We first had it on our trip to Turkey, but even Egypt had their own seasoning to the dish. Usually it is served cold and as an appetizer along with your Mezze dish. The reason I think you should try it, is that is seems so hard to make. You have to appreciate the artistry of getting a bunch of grains into a slippery grape leaf.
Uniquely wedged between the Middle East and Mediterranean, Egypt offers the best of both worlds. If your trip takes you to Alexandria, you can enjoy freshly caught seabass. It isn’t as readily available the more interior parts of the country you get, but we found it to be such a luxury having casual seabass at a restaurant overlooking the bay.
While there is some lamb available in the US, it is rare to come by unless you’re at a high end restaurant. Lamb was everywhere in Egypt, the most frequently available protein over any other. Maximize your lamb consumption while traveling here because you won’t have as great an opportunity (or as cheap!) anywhere else to enjoy it.
There is a ton of camel in Egypt, so much so that they make camel leather purses. Alexandria was a popular location for those souvenirs. Camels aren’t actually indigenous to Egypt but were brought in through centuries of trade. You certainly cannot get camel meat in very many places, so Egypt is the place to try it. Camel meatballs frequently appear on menus and it is a great way to get a small sample of it to decide if you like it.
This is not a dish per se, but it is an important beverage in Egypt. It tastes like party punch, and has been consumed for thousands of years as it is believed to have medicinal properties. You can cheers your hibiscus tea knowing that the pharaohs did the same. It was even coined the “Tea of the Gods”
You will likely get it as a hospitality beverage in checking into hotels or your Nile Cruise, if you opted for one. A large export of Egypt is also sugar cane, so you will notice a lot of the beverages are very sweet. It is a juice culture more than what you would see in the US.
Any other dishes you fell in love with while in Egypt? Let me know!
Check out related articles:
3 Reasons to Use a Tour Group in Egypt
How Much and When to Tip in Egypt
10 Things to Know Before Your Trip to Egypt
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