Despite my recent rant lamenting the lack of bacon in Egypt, things aren’t all bad. There are some foods, either because their not readily available in Canada or their quality is so poor that I refuse to purchase them, that I’m really loving while here. Here are my top five:
Sure you can buy pomegranates in Canada, but they’re really expensive (upwards of $5 each) and their quality is mixed at best. I suppose this isn’t a big surprise given how far they have to travel to get to us. Either way, I rarely bought them back home. Fortunately pomegranates here are grown locally so that means they’re cheap (less than 50 cents each) and fresh. Its a bonus that pomegranates are packed with polyphenols (ie. antioxidants), which have demonstrated promising results against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and prostate cancer.
And now because of the video below, they’re also easier to eat!
2. Egyptian Flatbread
A staple in the Egyptian people’s diet since pharaonic times, Egyptian flatbread is served with every meal over here. It’s similar to, but not exactly like, the Greek or Lebanese pita breads you can find easily back in Canada. It’s a chewy, low salt bread, that is typically made with whole wheat flour. We don’t eat it with every meal ourselves just yet, but we’ve found it great for dipping in sauces, or being toasted to make chips.
3. Istanbouli Cheese
You must be able to find this in Canada, but I’d never seen it. We first tried this type of cheese when we were in Turkey last December. There it is served with every breakfast. In Egypt, it seems to be found everywhere too. It’s creamy texture and salty taste are absolutely delicious. We find it’s a great substitute to Greek feta on salads and makes a nice snack with fresh veggies.
4. Fresh Mint
This one has less to do with it’s availability/quality in Canada and more to do with the fact that since we’ve been in Egypt we’ve learned several new ways to include it in our dishes. I really enjoy mint as a substitute for cucumber in traditional tzatziki yogurt dip. It also adds a nice freshness to salads, especially to those lacking other greens. And of course, it’s tough to beat a few sprigs of fresh mint in a cup of tea.
I had a difficult time choosing my last spot, but decided to go with eggplant. I’ve seen at least 4 different varieties here – they seem to come in several different shapes, sizes and colors. The eggplant in Egypt is grown locally and makes a great side dish or when stuffed, a delectable little appetizer. A fantastic Egyptian dish utilizing eggplants is also Mosaka. I learned this recipe at my Egyptian cooking class and we’ve made is a couple of times since. It’s very similar to Greek Mousakka, minus the bechemal sauce. Mmmm.