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Cairo Food & Wine : Local cuisine and tea  

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Whether its dusty streets filled with honking motorists, traders' bantering at chaotic markets or sleek  skyscrapers gracing the banks of the Nile, Cairo is a city of contradictory yet fascinating extremes.

While it is easy to spend endless days viewing the relics of a bygone age and then to settle for a meal at the hotel restaurant, one of the best ways to get a real feel for the city is through the local cuisine.

For a taste of authentic Cairo, Shawarma, a sandwich-like pita wrap of shaved lamb, goat, veal has become a fast-food staple across the Arab world, as has the traditional kebab consisting of meat and vegetables.  Falafel, a fried ball that is made out of fava beans which have been spiced and put into a pita bread is a another specialty as well as Fatayeer, a pancake filled with fruits or cream.

But if you are in the mood to try what some Egyptians consider their national dish then Ful Medames is the dish to order at breakfast.  Made from a spiced stew of long-cooked lentils or fava beans the dish the is topped with tahihi or olive oil and is served with a boiled egg and Baladi, which is Egyptian bread.

When it comes to eating out, visitors have quite a selection from the Khan el Khalili Restaurant that serves traditional Egyptian food found in the middle of the famous market or if you are heading in the direction of the pyramids in Giza then a stop at Andrea is in order where bread is baked in a clay oven and meats are roasted on a charcoal grill.

While there are thousands of tea and coffee houses scattered along every street corner in Cairo where you will see Egyptian men drinking mint tea and cardamom-spiced Turkish coffee, one of the most famous of all is Feshawi's Cafe.  Located in the Khan el-Khalili, Feshawi's steady clientele claim that the cafe has not shut its doors in over 200 years.


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