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Where to Eat in the Land of Pigeon and Rotten Fish


There is a reason you don’t see many Egyptian restaurants outside Egypt. Some of the tastes are, shall we say, purely local. The delicacy of choice is hamam—rice-stuffed whole pigeon. Rowaida Saad-El-Din, an educational administrator who’s as foodie as Cairenes come, says those who want to brave flying-rat haute cuisine should try Farhad’s (near Al-Azhar Mosque). In the spring, Egyptians sell rotten fish called fssikh—a sea mullet that has been fermented for extra oomph. Most don’t expect you to like it. If you dare to partake, Shaheen (Noubar St.) serves the relative best. Should neither of these appeal, the standby food of the Tahrir protesters, , is blandly delicious. It’s a mêlée of carbs: lentils, pasta, rice, and fried onions, doused in tomato sauce. And the best is at Abou Tarek (16 Maarouf-Shamplion St.). Or there’s fuul, the food of the people, a drippy paste made of oil, spices, and mushy fava beans. Many Egyptians lunch on $1 fuul sandwiches daily. Street vendors also sell rich fruit juices. Try the freshly crushed sugarcane. “Bring your own glass bottle—plastic will react with the juice,” Saad El-Din says. Then drink up: The juice will start to ferment after a couple days.


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