One of the most exciting things about international travel is getting to try all the different kinds of food. There are dozens of TV shows dedicated to travel food alone. While most people may greet the thought of foreign cuisine with open arms, it's a much more daunting subject for those of us who happen to be vegetarians.
Middle Eastern countries host a culture that is highly dependent on animal products. There is even a Muslim holiday known as Eid el Adha during which animal sacrifice is the main focus. With over 1 billion Muslims around the world, one can only imagine how many animals lose their lives on this day. There have been estimates of over 100 million animal slaughters for this holiday. This is quite a traumatic event for vegetarians and vegans alike. I recommend that you do research to learn when these popular Muslim holidays take place so that you can avoid this blood spillage.
With that being said, many Egyptian dishes can easily be created without meat. Fruits and vegetables are staples in the daily diet, and fruit vendors can easily be found on just about every street corner. Rice is also used widely.
Egyptians do not skimp when it comes to food. It's crucial that meals be hearty and filling. If you are looking to keep a low-calorie diet, perhaps try visiting another country! (Unless you have amazing self-control, which I do not.)
A typical Egyptian breakfast is full of delicious ways to start your day and meets almost all of the major food groups!
Tameya - (referred to as falafel in other countries) is a fried, vegetarian dish made from fav beans and a number of spices. It is normally eaten with pita bread. I like to smear soft, white cheese into the pita pocket along with a few cucumber slices. Then I will stuff 3 pieces of tameya inside and enjoy!
Ful - is cooked and mashed fava beans with cumin and oil. It is typically enjoyed with pita bread. You can add other ingredients to the dish depending on your personal taste.
Add ons - include eggs, fresh fruit, soft and hard cheeses, and flat breads. Coffee or tea with milk is typically served with breakfast.
Lunch & Dinner
These two are interchangeable. You can enjoy traditional Egyptian food throughout the day!
PROCEED WITH CAUTION!
Koshary - is a pasta bowl that will leave you in a food coma. I'm serious. You will not be able to move after you eat this dish. If you are trying koshary for the first time, eat it slowly. Just trust me. It's a combination of different pastas (macaroni, angel hair, etc...), rice, lentils, tomato sauce, garlic, chickpeas, and fried onions on top. I suggest that you eat this after a long day of sightseeing.
Molokhia - is the bane of my existence. It's a thick, slimy green soup that I simply cannot cope with. Egyptians like to add it to rice or another type of carb. Meat can be added, so check that it's vegetarian before you try - if you are vegetarian, of course.
McDonald's delivers! KFC delivers! Everyone delivers!
It's like a dream come true. Fast food has become extremely popular in Egypt. You will see dozens of small, motorized bikes with delivery compartments attached to the back. This is something I could definitely get behind. I don't normally eat fast food, but I can't deny how convenient it would be if all of these restaurants delivered right here in the United States.
There is no shortage of places to eat in Egypt. Just about every type of cuisine is represented in Cairo. You can find sushi, Italian, American, and so much more. There is even a Chile's right on the Nile River in Zamalek for those of you who need a little taste of home.
If you are craving pizza, you could get Pizza Hut...but I have something even better! Thomas Pizza, also in Zamalek, has an amazing menu and is open 24 hours a day.
Blaze (as seen in photo) is another local restaurant that is set up more like a sports bar. They don't serve alcohol here, but you can watch the next soccer match! They have a great drink menu and nachos that are to die for. Egypt is not a dry country. They do sell alcohol at bars, clubs, and some restaurants. For more information on this, click here!
I spent four months in Egypt and ended up losing weight. This was only because I was so active. I really did not watch what I was eating. The only thing I was looking at was whether or not it had meat in it. Desserts and cafes are two whole new subjects, which will be coming soon. Stay tuned for my next post!