With almost any food you eat:
- a plated meal
- a sandwich
- liver with rice
- grilled chicken and fried….
you will find a couple of small plates filled with pickles, as a “side dish”.
But let us warn you: the Egyptian pickles have a taste all of their own, rather unique it has to be said.
Though if you can manage to eat a few, they are said to be totally addictive.
RIGHT BACK TO CLEOPATRA:
This staple food of Egypt is said to date right back to the Pharaohs! Cleopatra herself apparently attributed her good looks to a daily diet of pickles! It is thought that in ancient Egypt, people from every class and function consumed pickles daily for their nutritional value.
For centuries, people all over the world have believed in the “power of the pickle”, as they believed, as Cleopatra had said, that these salty vegetables will enhance their beauty!
Egyptians love to pickle a variety of vegetables. The most usual are carrots, turnip and cucumbers. However you can pickle anything: cauliflower, whole chills and even whole small lemons.
The flavour can be a bit shocking at first, as vinegar (used in mainly other picks) is not the main ingredient. Egyptian pickles are more along the lines of vegetables in brine: salt water and lemon are the main pickling ingredients, with chilli or dill added for a different flavour.
The purpose of these pickles is not to preserve them, but to add a salty, bitter crunch to almost any meal.
IN THE MARKET:
When you walk in a local market, you will usually see a vast array of pickled vegetables, as you will in any supermarket. Wholesalers sell them by the drum, and street sandwich vendors sell them in a small packet or 2. Some women will pickle their own.
But the common theme about these pickles is that Egyptians take a great pride in their sour-salty pickles, and any foreigner who enjoys them will immediately be applauded and welcomed into the family.
ARE THEY NICE?
Doing a rather “informal” survey among our guests, it would appear that out of every 10 people:
1 will really, really like them, and ask after them if not on the table.
2 will actually rather enjoy them (and eat a couple every time they are available)
3 will not dis-like them, but will try one at a few meals, trying to see if the taste grows on them!
1 will try once and never again
2 won’t even try them!
So when you come to Egypt, give one a go and see which kind or person you are… but on advice from our guests, try and little piece of one as a first try, but never never never have a first taste with a whole small pickled lemon: it really is too much too soon!