The Table of My Ancestors: Week 9 (Egypt)

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To read the post that started it all, click here!

The percentage of my DNA that’s Egyptian is small, but I was thrilled to discover I had some. Egypt’s always fascinated me, and I really wanted to dive into researching this amazing country.

What I’ve discovered is that while the art, culture, mythology, and history captivates me, the food…did not. (Gulp.) Most recipes I came across didn’t appeal to me, and I knew that they’d be a hard sell on my family, too.

However, I was determined to stick to the spirit of this project, so I dove in this week with hawawshi (pronounced ha-WOW-she). These are sold everywhere in markets in the major cities and are like Egyptian hamburgers, in a sense — but I can confirm after trying them that they’re waaaay better. The meat is mixed with onion, garlic, bell pepper, and jalepeno, and then you add a beautifully warm spice mix that includes cumin, paprika, cardamom, and more. The meat mix is stuffed in pita pockets (I made my own using a quick 10-minute dough!) and baked at a high temperature until the beef is cooked and the pita is crispy. Served with homemade hummus and pita chips, it was a simple and surprisingly delicious meal!

I also made halawet el moulid, a sweet that is sold during Egyptian moulids. A moulid is a festival that celebrates the life of a saint (both Muslims and Coptic Christians celebrate them in Egypt). Since All Saints Day and All Souls Day fell at the beginning of the week, I wanted a way to honor those who have been lost this year, so I decided to make halawet el moulid. It’s basically candied nuts with sugar and honey, and they are very, very sweet. I didn’t particularly care for them, but it did provide me with a meaningful connection to the Egyptian people during some of our holiest days.

Featured photo: “Egypt-12B-021 – Step Pyramid of Djoser” by archer10 (Dennis) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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