Monday, January 9, 2012

Letters from Egypt: An Exhausting Year

This year has been exhausting to say the least. The one-year anniversary of Egypt’s revolution is approaching on January 25 (the Arab Spring began with Tunisia on January 14). So while this blog has more than documented the on goings pre-, during and post-revolution, I realized that many of us are just down and out about this country.

Some may say, “If you don’t like it, leave.” True. However, you can’t pretend that if you went through a year of constant turmoil that you wouldn’t be a little downtrodden yourself. Hence why I haven’t written in awhile (that and having to yet again say my goodbyes to those closest to me). Despite how frustrated I may get with Egypt – and trust me, many times I feel that I could run up and down my street just slashing people that look at me the wrong way – there are still some things that I love.

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs things that I would miss when I leave this country, but today reminded me of more. I switched my gym membership and as I was working out this morning, the sun was coming up (the gym is full of long windows overlooking the city). Made Cairo seem that much more manageable in that peaceful, no one is awake yet honking their horns profusely. My friend and I left and went to Café Greco at CSA and again, not only is it the best coffee in Egypt, the staff is WONDERFUL. They ALWAYS remember how I like my coffee and all it takes is me walking in and they immediately start whipping it up. The only question they have is, “One or two.” Tip: If you work out early in the morning, you’re on top of your game at the office until 1-1:30 pm rolls around. Then you need a nap. Getting two iced American coffees from Greco, with one going in the fridge for later, helps combat that sluggish state.
I went home before going to the office and made my lunch: feta cheese, diced tomatoes, cilantro, kalamata olives and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. And I realized just how freaking good the cheese is here. There’s this gourmet cheese shop in Degla (Maadi), but for the life of me, I don’t understand why people shop at it. The cheese that you can buy in local grocers like Metro and Seoudi market is top notch. Feta and bleu cheese in the US is dry and crumbly, but here it is creamy and melts in your mouth.

The vegetables are seasonal and right now it’s time for strawberries. Listen, I grew up in the country where my family and I went and picked up turnips and other greens from the truck on the side of the road before hitting ‘town’; we went and picked our own peaches and blueberries; bought bushels of peas; and every other vegetable/fruit you could think of. And while that is some of the best grub you’ll get in the US, I will say it doesn’t even hold a candle to the local produce available here (although I'm definitely missing collards, mustards and turnips). In fact, if you know me – you’ve surely heard my sweet corn story which might be deemed as the best thing Sweet Baby Jesus ever put in my mouth.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the things that we appreciate after going through a constant barrage of draining events. It’s even harder when you’re like me and haven’t left the country since June nor had a vacation in over a year; nonetheless, it’s pertinent to remember the good things no matter where you are – even if almost damn near impossible sometimes to find.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree on the produce and fruit- especially strawberries and oranges. Keep your head up- things are not so great back in the states, or at least in my humble opinion. Keep writing- love your blog.