Understanding Egypt is a series about Egyptian culture and traditions. I will try my best to explain the Egyptian way of thinking about different aspects of life that are usually different (or not) from Western and other cultures. If you have any questions or points you need elaborated please contact me through the comments sections or through the contact me page.
This is the first post in the Understanding Egypt category. In this post I will try to explain the culture and traditions behind Egyptian food.
No, I will not talk about the local cuisine nor will I give the recipes to my favorite menus, simply because I don’t know the recipes, I am the worst person to be put in a kitchen to cook 🙂
I want to, however, explain something that I haven’t seen in any other country. Egyptians love to eat together! But that is human nature you might say, humans tend to like living – and especially eating – in groups. But to an Egyptian this has a deep meaning…
Egyptians love to share their food, no matter how little it was. Heck, the less food an Egyptian has, the more you will hear them offering everyone passing by to come and join them. “A good bite is good for one hundred” is a well known proverb in Egypt, meaning that this little food I have now will leave us all satisfied if we share it.
It is not just out of kindness. Mind you, Egyptians are generally kind and hospitable people, but it also holds another meaning to it.
It is a sign of friendship. Or in other words, sharing food and – not literally – eating from the same plate – or maybe even literally! – means that you two became brothers. An Egyptian will never betray someone that ate with them from the same plate.
And it is not just betrayal in its literal meaning, it is more like: I will have to bail out, stand up for, and help out that person that shared food with me, no matter what. “We ate together” is the only sentence you hear in defense of a stupid/risky action taken by someone to help out someone else.
If you ask me, this is great!
It has also been taken into the slang language of the people, where we would call someone who would betray you or who isn’t a very good friend “he didn’t preserve the food between us”.
And by the way, for the simplicity of Egyptians, we don’t translate the word food in all those proverbs and known expressions to the Arabic word of food. Instead, we call it “bread and salt” because it is the simplest “meal” that even very poor people might be able to have on their table.
So are you up to joining me for some Falafel now? Are you up for “eating with me from the same plate”?
What if it was this delicious breakfast? I guess it is worth the risks 😉
How does that compare to the eating traditions in other countries? And do you have any questions or misunderstood points about this? Write them down in the comments, I’ll be happy to explain more!