Tag Archives: Restaurants

Kushari and the Thousand Crunches

When you have back to back meetings the whole day, live on coffee and don’t get a lunch break, what do you do? I know what I do. I have a nice dinner! If this happens on a business trip, I have a perfect excuse to have even a nicer dinner. In a nice restaurant. This was the case practically every day during my latest trip to Cairo.

Cairo Nile at night edited

So now I pay for those late meals…Don’t get me wrong, money-wise I already paid for them, but the calories are still on the credit card. I eat salads and force myself to the gym to reduce my debt little by little. But it was worth it. Let me explain.

The first evening I was so jet-lagged from the 24 hour trip and 7 hour time difference, that I just wanted to eat fast, anything would do. It seemed like colleagues were feeling the same way so we ended up in the hotel cafeteria for a quick meal quite late at night. I had some pasta and slept like a baby for a full 7 hours. You know, waking up every two hours thinking it was morning already.

The second evening, after a full day of work and more than half a dozen small cups of strong Arabic coffee, we decided to explore some Egyptian food in a famous restaurant nearby, Abou El Sid. Walking into the restaurant was like being moved into the glorious era around 1950s. The ambience was spectacular with the antique rugs and furniture, intricate tiling and beautiful light fixtures.

Lightning lamps in Egyptian restaurant Cairo

The menu was both in Arabic and English. After a nice selection of appetizers that we shared, I wanted to try traditional Egyptian food. Looking at the menu – and listening to a friend who spends a lot of time in Egypt, I selected the Kushari (also spelled Koshari or Kosheri), sometimes dubbed as the Egyptian national dish. Under the name of the dish on the menu it said “feel like a real Egyptian”, so my choice was clear.

Kushari (2)

Kushari is a vegetarian dish of rice, pasta, onions, chick peas, lentils and bulgur wheat, topped by a spicy tomato sauce. It was truly delicious! My portion was XL as is customary in Egypt. So like a real Egyptian, I left some on my plate. And didn’t have much room for the delicious desserts brought to the table, just had to taste…

The next day I tried Indian food in a restaurant close by. It was excellent, just as one would get in a first-rate Indian restaurant anywhere in the world.

The following night it was time to try something different: colleagues and I decided to meet some friends at the Cairo Fish Market Restaurant located on the Nile on the Giza side of the river.

This restaurant offers an excellent selection of fresh seafood. You just go and point out the fish or whatever sea creature you want to have, and tell the waiter how you want it prepared. The rest follows “automatically”, all the side dishes come to the table: spicy rice, different types of potatoes, a variety of spicy sauces, salads, a huge bowl of lemons in little squeeze bags, and the traditional, delicious pita bread.

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And then it is just to enjoy, both the plentiful, delicious food and the views of the Nile outside the windows. It was a wonderful and enjoyable dinner sharing many different sea food dishes with colleagues and friends.

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The next day was my last in town and I ended up eating a delicious Indian meal again with colleagues, late at night before leaving for the airport in the wee hours of the morning.

These food adventures were worth every single crunch and plenty of miles on the treadmill. I hope you enjoyed these (completely calorie-free) dining adventures.

A Free Meal on the Fly

It was one of those days. I was running around the whole morning to finalize my work papers and to pack my bags. Cool weather clothes, boots, laptop, Kindle, adapters, papers – you name it. I was also checking that everything was in order at home for the next one week, and explained to my dog that I had to go to work again. He doesn’t think I’m working when I do it in my home office, so for him mom needs to go to work means several days without me. And needing to rely on dad for his treats and walks.

He definitely doesn’t like the prospect of me not coming home every evening so I always need to spend some quality time with him before leaving. All this was going on in the morning and I had to be at the airport around lunch time to catch my early afternoon flight, first of three for the next 24 hours. So I forgot to eat.

After going through the necessary hassles at the airport, I found myself – now really hungry – in a concourse that didn’t have my airline’s club. But it had a nice gourmet restaurant. Fancy looking and only a few customers eating lunch and sipping their wine.

As I had almost an hour to spare before boarding, I decided it was not good for my figure to eat several bags of potato chips or pretzels onboard.  So I went in and ordered a proper lunch, grilled chicken salad and a glass of crispy white to go with it.

It was very tasty! Really enjoyable. I was just finishing my salad when a small house fly came around. I was afraid that, as usual, it would land in my not-yet-empty wine glass. I didn’t want to share my wine with anyone, so I caught the fly in-flight. The poor little landed on the white rim of my large salad plate. And there he was sitting. Still very normal-looking but …well, dead. No danger to my wine or anyone.

About ten minutes before my boarding time the waitress came to remove my plate. I asked for my check and handed over my card. I waited and waited. Now I was in a hurry. Finally a male waiter approached my table with the check.  I saw his name plate in the corner of my eye and observed that he was actually the manager on duty. I was already getting up, prepared to run to my gate, when he put the tab on the table and said he was sorry about the fly. I said it was ok and quickly signed the check, put the copy in my pocket, gave a few dollars as tip that I had calculated in advance, and ran out.

Sitting in the plane, I looked at the check. It was for nine dollars and six cents. The price of my glass of wine with tax. And I realized I had gotten a free meal on the fly! I thought about the fly with gratitude the next day when I had to pay over 10 Euros for my cappuccino. It all balances out sooner or later, right?