Syonara has a kitchen and I’ll have (big!) one in my apartment.
I cooked something in Egypt for the first time today.
Summer, a 22-year-old woman who helps Syonara with the house and kids showed me how to turn on the stove, where the spatulas are and a big tub of something resembling butter.
I cooked sunny-side eggs with red peppers and pita.
The significance in this wasn’t cooking (I love to cook) or eating a home cook meal (I get tastier than eggs thanks to Syonara and Hayam).
Rather, cooking felt like a statement.
I’m not simply a guest or visiting–Cairo is my home now.
Prior to the cooking, I went grocery shopping.
This involved a cab ride to Dokki–another small island beside Zamalek, because there is nothing more than convenience stores, produce and plentiful street food downtown.
This is something I’ve done before, but it was the first time I bought more than snacks–vegetables and eggs made the list.
The products available really impress me so far. There is a wide range of organic fruits and vegetables, and the first cereal I grabbed is made with organic wheat.
While Syonara tells me they spray the fruits and veggies sold on the street, most are ripe, fresh, delicious and more accessible than the grocery store.
Meat is another culinary adventure I’ve barely begun.
Thanks to my mother, I’ve always been conscious about the meat I eat. Last year Barbara Kinglover’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle drilled these sentiments further. Though I’m not anal about it–i.e. I’ll eat out and being a typical college student compromise for price, I buy local and avoid factory farmed meat.
Since I can’t always read labels (if they even exist) or communicate with vendors, knowing what I’m eating sometimes alludes me.
Despite the mystery of what I’m eating–“meat” can mean lamb, beef, camel–I hope nothing else… I instinctively feel better about the quality than in the U.S.
Feel free to correct me on this, but from what I’ve heard/asked factory farming doesn’t exist here, at least not in the same fashion as the United States. How much of the meat is imported, I couldn’t say, but a walk down any street suggests at least a good portion is local.
I’ve come across the occasional chicken pen in alleys and behind the Khan el Khalili and tons of butchers hang recently cut cow parts from their store windows. The other day Sean and I even saw the cow head resting on a counter–that must have been a very local job….
Syonara has promised she’ll give me a crash course in meat buying and other essentials before I move to my apartment.