Friday, March 23, 2018

Egyptian Pot-Luck Breakfast

All ready for Breakfast

When we arranged to visit our friends in Cairo, we were warned that they were hosting the weekly Maadi Runners “pot-luck” breakfast while we were there, so we might be pressed into service helping to get things ready. I thought this was a great idea, and would give me a chance to meet some of their Egyptian friends.

I was told that it was a casual affair and everyone chipped in, bringing and preparing food. It was a hot sunny day so the whole affair would be held outside beside the pool. Tables and chairs were pulled from storage by the gardener and set up, and in the morning I swept the mango tree droppings off the tables and gave them a wipe down.

Drinks are ready!
The first to arrive was a young Egyptian fellow who immediately took over the kitchen, (Those who know our friend will be gasping at this). He began chopping onions, garlic and preparing a huge bowl of eggs. He pressed me into service trimming beans and then handed the next runner to arrive a knife and asked her to chop mushrooms and spinach.

Next a girl arrived with a bag of tomatoes and cheese and took over the kitchen table to prepare a dish called gibna-tamaatim. However, Mohsen, the leader of this band of runners arrived next with the same idea, but looked at her salad and announced “not a problem”, he would make another different gibna-taamatim. At this point he was introduced to me and he handed me a knife and I was given directions to chop tomatoes. As I got about half the tomatoes done he announced that I was doing a great job, so I was in charge of mashing the tomatoes into the cheese. As a result of his careful instructions, I am now an expert gibna-tamaatim sous-chef. Although we did have a problem with
"He made it!"
spice . . . he wanted his gibna-taamatim to be Egyptian, not “For tourists” and wanted it spicy, but was not familiar with my use of spice and it took our friend's assurance of “Art knows spicy . . do not worry!” before he allowed me to add cayenne to the chili in order to achieve the result he wanted.

In between this cooking lesson I started meeting the members and friends of the Maadi Runners. A tall fellow with a decidedly not Egyptian accent was from Germany, that red hair was not Egyptian but Australian, and so it went . . . . Thailand, France, Scotland, America, Brazil, Malaysia, Austria, Korea, and of course us Canadians, with a friendly pregnant Egyptian street cat thrown in for good measure.

So, although there were about 12 or 13 “real” Egyptians, it was really more of a international gathering of runners. Over half of the 40 people, happily gathered for breakfast after an early morning run, were from countries scattered across the globe.

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