Let’s be honest – 50% of the reason I bought this was the packaging alone. Could you have passed up the font, the psychedelic flowery swirls straight out of the 60s, the little Camembert slice levitating over the apples? The other 50% has something to do with the fact that we’ve just had a lovely, generous houseguest who arrived from Paris toting several varieties of cheeses we hadn’t even thought about in months. The cheeses were promptly devoured, which means that when our guest returned to France, we were left with cravings for fromage like the stuff that had briefly graced our fridge… but weren’t exactly prepared to pay import prices at the supermarket. Oh, that elusive midrange merchandise…
So the verdict is that Mega Camembert (Made in Egypt) is worth approximately 16le, which is convenient, because that’s exactly how much it costs. It’s not amazing. The white exterior had a foamy texture, and we’ve no idea how the manufacturers managed that. It tastes like Camembert about as much as local ‘special’ cheddar tastes like cheddar. It’s an approximation. But it would be pretty good melted in an omelette, and when the imported alternatives are upwards of 40le, it’s nice to know you have options.
French Fry Schwarma
We here at al-Masri al-Yum have a well-known love for potato products in almost all of their guises, and french fries have pride of place in our list of potato-based dishes we love. For being a city with a very high rate of french fries per capita, however, Cairo is startingly bereft of outlets serving good-quality fries. Which brings us to EuroDeli.
EuroDeli is famous for at least three things: It is, along with Arabica, one of the few remaining outlets in Zamalek (and the city) that offers free wireless to its patrons; it has a decent chocolate cake, preferably a la mode; and, it serves some of the best french fries in the city. Now, their steak cut will certainly preclude them passing the lips of those who prefer their fries model-thin, and the french-fry-to-dipping-sauce ratio may be all askew (advantage french fries) and the price for an extra serving of said sauce outrageously high, but they also represent excellent value for money if one is willing to forego the extra sauce, and they do have a flavor unmatched in the annals of recent Egyptian frenchfryology.
Notes and addenda:
As with all French fries, those available at EuroDeli are a dish best served hot. As such, ordering them for delivery is best avoided.
We have heard, but cannot confirm, that Café Versailles, by the AUC Hostel, also has excellent french fries.
For those with a more internationalist perspective, MY has been regaled by correspondent TA with tales of the amazing french fry culture in Pakistan. Although she bemoans the fact that chains like One Potato Two Potato have commercialized the french fry trade and subsequently squeezed out smaller, superior producers found in places like Lahore’s Liberty Square, she still maintains that Pakistan’s french fry vendors could teach their Egyptian cousins a thing or two about the proper frying of potatoes. With that and Gamal Eddin al-Afghani in mind we call for a pan-Islamic pact of french fry friendship, so that best practices and superior frymanship reign from Parsley Island to Peshawar, Aghadir to Aceh.
Please see this old TBE post for a short discussion of Heinz ketchup in Egypt and a link to the best thing Malcolm Gladwell has ever written.
Howie Carr is a horrible person, but the story of the Bulger brothers is fascinating.
Al-Masri al-Yum readers clamoring for healthful alternatives having reached an all time high, we reached out to our correspondents to provide them with that for which they’ve been clamoring. “Members Only” Jaquette here offers a healthful (and vegan, for those keeping track) alternative to al-Masri al-Yum’s usual fare.
Certain things are predictable: the presence of at least one person you know in Horeyya on any given night, that party boats on the Nile will always be playing the “El-3aineb” song by Saad el-Sagheer (I shouldn’t knock, that’s how I learned my first colors in Arabic), that requests to unsubscribe from Cairoscholars will be sent to the list, and that every couple months I will suddenly lose taste for all the recipes I usually cook. The quest for new flavors usually starts with feverish internet browsing, which leads to kitchen experimentation, which most recently has lead to this gem of a recipe: Bulgur, Pumpkin and Chard Kefteh.
For all you with more savory hankerings than sweet teeth, this recipe is quick, healthy, and delicious – plus none of the ingredients require a trip to Metro, Alfa, or the like. The Cairo version is adopted from this recipe for Bulgur and Winter Squash Kefteh (thanks NYT!) and fulfills a craving for whole grains and dark leafy greens. Those are the kinds of food cravings I fall victim to, at least.
Recipe after the jump.
"You've got the spinach so why don't you cook it?"
Some of our readers have complained in the offline comment section of which our aura consists that al-Masri al-Yum is overly devoted to recipes containing inordinate amounts of sugar or cream and other ingredients that the more healthful and/or philistine amongst us abhor. Before another bout of clothes-renting and assaults on our “I’m not rich but my food is” bumper sticker philosophy, please be advised that we are lining up some contributors that promise much healthier fare, including an adherent to the mysterious cult of raw food currently sweeping Egypt and the world. At any rate, creamed spinach is at least half healthy. It’s a frisson, mayne!
Recipe after the jump.
"Hmmm... Should I serve it with fried or hard-boiled eggs?"
Al-Masri al-Yum recently attended a brunch, “Brekkie with Mama,” which might more aptly’ve been titled “Much Ado About Pancakes,” but we digress. The pancakes were delightful, though they were, in the final analysis, simply a vehicle for some contraband maple syrup smuggled in from the cold, cold north. (It should be noted that we take a soft editorial line on foods, like pancakes and some french fries, that function as condiment conveyance devices.)
Pancakes notwithstanding, the real star of the brunch, in the eyes of many, was the fuul whipped up by the guest of honor, Umm Lady HaSha.
We understand that some readers may question why one would ever make fuul at home, considering its abundance in the streets and alleys of this fair city. The answer is simple: Unlike people, all fuul is not created equal, and it can sometimes be risky to order fuul from an unknown address. Furthermore, this is not your standard fuul recipe, but a triumph of Iraqi-Egyptian fusion cuisine.
Recipe after the jump.
Sorry for the recent lack of posts. To make up for it, TBE is today featuring a recipe for banana bread, which is delicious and eminently doable even in the most ill-stocked of Cairo kitchens, so long as it contains a mixer (about which we’ve recently learned that some people refer to it as a “hand blender,” which sounds rather sinister). Also bananas are currently in season and the bananas of Cairo are far better than any one is likely to find in the US, so one should take advantage.
But first, some topical humor dreamt up by TBE’s team of highly trained comedians:
What did the banana do when he wanted to talk to someone on the other side of the café?
Answer, and the recipe, after the jump.
Real talk: Back in the late 1990s, a TBE correspondent used to work at the now-defunct location of Blockbuster Video in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington, DC. One evening a number of men wearing wool greatcoats swept into the building. DC not yet having been overrun by czars, TBE was unsure what to make of their uniform attire, other than to remember his training, which called for increased vigilance when people in baggy coats stepped into the building, lest they be thieves.
They were not, as it turns out, thieves. Rather they were members of the secret service escorting Tipper Gore as she picked up a couple movies. One of the movies she rented was Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.
So that’s where we got the title of this post.
Fittingly, considering that Al Gore was once a Democratic dauphin of sorts, the first recipe we’re featuring is Gratin Dauphinois, which is really simple and delicious aside from the tedious slicing of potatoes.