Eating in Egypt: Four Items to Sample.

Eating in Egypt: Four Items to Sample.

When Jeff and I decided to head to Egypt, yes, I was excited to see all that I had learned about in art history class, but I was equally excited for the food. I love to try anything new, and food is no exception. Luckily, Jeff is exactly the same way.

When we got to Egypt, we immediately told our guide, Mohammad, that we only wanted to eat traditional Egyptian food. Since we would only be spending three days in Egypt, we wanted to eat everything Egyptians ate and loved. We didn’t even bother to care about Ramses Revenge, which luckily didn’t hit until we got home.

While everything we ate was delicious, there are four items that still standout in my mind, and if I could go back to Egypt tomorrow to eat them again, I would be on the next plane over.

Koshari

If anything is Egypt in a bowl, it’s this dish right here. A mixture of lentils, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, onions, and spices all mixed together in one big bowl. Top it off with garlic oil or hot sauce, and you’re good to go.

The place we went to specializes only in this dish and although we were surrounded by flies as we ate, it was the most delicious meal I may have ever had. After a long day of pyramid hopping in the heat, it was exactly what Jeff and I needed to gain the energy for the remainder of the day.

Roz bi Laban

After the koshari, I didn’t think I could fit anything else into my stomach. That’s when Mohammad brought out the sweet rice pudding, Roz bi Laban. I hate rice pudding, just hearing the name makes my stomach turn, but I didn’t want to upset Mohammad, who was clearly excited about it.

With the first bite, I changed my mind about rice pudding, it was completely nothing like I expected. It was so sweet and cold, that it was like ice cream, but dare I say, better. Had I not stuffed myself with koshari, I would have definitely had seconds.

Aseer Asab

Aseer Asab, or sugar cane juice, is what you get when you press sugar cane and collect the juice extracted. It’s a very popular drink in Egypt, so of course, we had to try it. The greenish color liquid was sweet and went down easy on the hot summer day.

While it was delicious, and gave us a boost of energy, it was also probably the reason for our stomach issues when we arrived back home. Because it isn’t pasteurized, it can easily carry bacteria. However, it was worth it, and I hate to say it, but I’d do it all over again. It was that good.

Falafel

I’ve always loved falafel, but there was something about the way they were served in Egypt that made me love them even more. That, and the fact that they are a popular breakfast food. Jeff and I ate these each morning for breakfast and couldn’t seem to get enough.

The combination of the fresh, warm falafel, lettuce, tomato, and tahini on a warm, thin pita is exactly what we needed to start our mornings. In fact, we still talk about how we should start our days this way in America.

One of my favorite reasons for traveling is to fully immerse myself in a culture, and often, there is no better way to do that than through a country’s food. If you ever find yourself in Egypt, don’t forget to sample a few of my favorites.

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Comments (26)

  1. thelazytravelers

    yummm that falafel looks delish! ive never been to egypt, but the romantic & the hubs went there on their honeymoon and the hubs suffered some mild food poisoning… xo, the wino

    1. The World Wanderer

      It was! Yea, I think it’s inevitable to get food poisoning while visiting Egypt, which is why I just went for it and ate at the place with the flies anyway! 🙂

      1. yasmin

        to some extend,thats true
        but come on ! you just cant go eat ANYWHERE !!
        like 60% of places are rotten filthy and i wouldnt eat there if my life depended on it
        but some others are good to go, u cant eat in a place with flies and wonder why u hv food poising
        there is a place that specializes in koshary and its airconditioned and even has a fountain inside ! and for nearly the same price !

        im SOO glad u enjoyed the food i just wantd to say that u can hv good food without it biting you in the ass
        and i must ask, did you try molokhia?
        or you only ate the things ppl eat for breakfast and dinner not lunch

  2. Francesca

    Mmmm, falafel! You’re totally right about using food to immerse yourself in a country’s culture. That being said, I still don’t know if I would have tried the rice pudding 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      Hahaha, it was so yummy!!!! I swear! 🙂

  3. @mrsoaroundworld

    ha ha this was really mean|! I am sitting at my desk eating salad!!

    Lovely to meet you earlier this week in NYC, Erin!!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Oh no! I hope you ditched the salad in search of a falafel! 😉

      Lovely meeting you as well! Looking forward to future meetings!

  4. Fiona

    Have never associated Egypt with pasta, glad I learned something here!! 🙂 Plus have had falafel twice this week, maybe I’m meant to go to Egypt! 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      I know, who knew?! 😉 You ARE meant to go to Egypt – falafel is the best!

  5. Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    Neat experience! I enjoyed the lotus tea and lotus juice – did you get to try them? At first, the taste was weird but I took to it. Over the years, if I return to Egypt or whenever an Egyptian colleague would come to the U.S., I would be sure to get more of the tea leaves! Also, didn’t you love the bread?? It was really neat to see road-side people making bread over “fire-ovens” – good stuff!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Oh, I don’t know if I had any…I may have! Yes, the bread was delicious. Everything was delicious! In fact, I think part of me would just go back for the food. I can’t even find falafel here that compares..

  6. Traveling Ted

    Love immersing myself in the food too. I have eaten falafel before, but I have never heard of koshari. It looks delicious. I think I am ready to eat my way through Egypt.

    1. The World Wanderer

      It’s not a bad plan! I crave kosher now, and found a recipe, just haven’t had the chance to make it.

  7. D.J. - The World of Deej

    Hmm…this Aseer Asab sounds intriguing! I would love to experience the food of Egypt.

  8. Pola (@jettingaround)

    Sounds delicious! I’m craving falafel now…

  9. Craig Zabransky

    I totally thought that was a beer in the back of the cab… looks like you are enjoying a cold one there… but it’s sugar cane juice.. 😉

    stay adventurous, Craig

    1. The World Wanderer

      Haha, it does look like beer! It was super refreshing, and I did get a bit of a buzz off of it, so who knows?!

  10. Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke)

    Hey Erin, I too discovered koshary in Egypt (although the place where I got mine was devoid of insect life). I have a similar photo of my koshary, too. It’s in my article about Cairo, which perhaps you can check out:

    http://hbombkaraoke.com/2012/11/02/touring-egypt-part-1-cairo-gateway-to-historic-egypt/

    Also, I wouldn’t necessarily blame your GI tract problems on the sugar cane drink. I didn’t have any aseer asab and I still developed the ailment that you have to take Cipro for (as did a large percentage of the people in my tour group). 🙂 In my case it may have been due to not using bottled water to brush my teeth as I’d been advised to do . . . But also, it just seems that if you’re a Westerner and you visit Egypt, there’s a good chance you’ll get symptoms of a stomach bug. It’s just something you have to deal with, and it didn’t bother me too much..

    1. The World Wanderer

      I will definitely check out your article. Wasn’t it so delicious?! Glad you didn’t have the same fly problem as we did…but, when in Egypt! 😉

      Yes, I think it’s quite impossible to visit Egypt and not get sick. I was in Southern Africa for three weeks prior to this trip and was perfectly healthy the whole time, even though I wasn’t always careful about what I ate. I did, however, always brush with bottled water, I think that’s often a common cause of getting sick. Who knows what it was, but I will never forget my first day home from Egypt – just glad I was able to make it home, haha.

  11. Kieu

    We were only in Cairo for a day and the falafel place we had in mind was closed. So sad we missed it..

    1. The World Wanderer

      Oh, that’s awful! Cairo without falafel just is depressing. Though…it means you’ll have to go back!

  12. 2 Digital Nomads

    Very delicious post! We lived in Egypt for 20 years and we are happy that you loved the food there, there is a lot to eat and sample and the more time you spend the more you will fall for the country and people.

    We are planning to go there within next year to spend few months exploring the country again.

    Safe travel

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks! The food was one of my favorite parts, though I easily fell in love with everything about Egypt. I hope to get back there very soon. Hope you are enjoying your travels!

  13. Sugarcane juice | Round the World: Food and More

    […] in many countries. In Egypt, it is called aseer asab, and it is apparently wonderful (enough so that this blog writer would drink it again, even knowing that she was likely to get a stomach bug from it). I wonder if I […]

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