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It’s amazing to think that there are starving people in Egypt, when eating is such a popular past time. There are restaurants, Cafes and supermarkets almost on every corner of every block. You even have food carts that sell foul (traditional bean dish), Falafel (deep friend bean patty), batata (sweet potato) and roasted corn (dur-rah). Hell you can even buy belady bread, fruit and vegetables from a cart. We are a nation obsessed about FOOD! Our outings are revolved around FOOD too. 

Mohendiseen Area

Mohendiseen is one of my least favorite places to go to.  I personally find it to be overly crowded and the thickest part of the concrete jungle we call Cairo. However, it is where most of the businesses are and it’s where the majority of the citizen’s of the Gulf states like to take up residents during the summer months. In the districts defense, I have to admit that they do have some restaurants that are worth battling traffic to go and enjoy.

If you want your steak cooked the way you want it, then Charwoods is the place to go and satisfy your craving. It’s a quaint and quiet restaurant located on Gam3at El Dewal Street.  Keep your eyes open for it because it’s very easy to miss. The interior is very simple but with a cozy atmosphere. The menu is on black chalk boards on the restaurant walls. So, feel free to get up and walk around to read what you might want to eat. Their Fillet Au Poivre is my favorite and their lemon sorbet ice cream is so perfect you could purr. I was taken there on a first date and I was impressed. If you plan on going with a large group of people, it’s bet to book ahead of time. 

Le Papillon (The Butterfly),  is quite an old restaurant but still serves great tasting Lebanese food. We went there for the first time a few months ago and we were so mesmerized by the Mezazas (oriental salads), that we kept ordering more. We never got to ordering a main dish or desert.

Crave is quite a hip place to eat. I believe the correct culinary word to describe it is fusion. They fuse two or three styles of cuisine together. Their Mixed Mushroom Appetizer is divine and their Chocolate fondant desert is enough to make you ‘crave’ it more.

Maison Thomas is my favorite pizzeria in Egypt. Thomas uses fresh ingredients on their thin crust pizzas and their cheese cakes are just as good. My advise is if you have the urge to have Pizza, don’t go for the fast food junk, be kind to your body and taste buds and either go their or have a deliver made. I’m so glad they have branches all over the city.

Spectra Cafe is a lot like Roastary in my opinion. It reminds me a lot of a pub that serves pub sized lunches. The times I have gone there was only one time, where I didn’t enjoy the meal and that was because it was really late at night and the oil they used to fry the onion rings in had been over used.

* I am sure there are others but those are the ones that I have been to.

Maadi reminds me of the suburbs. It is probably the greenest part of Cairo. Maadi is home to most of the Expat community in Cairo. The Ivy league schools are there too. They have a couple of clubs exclusively for expats and they also have several softball teams. I don’t mind venturing there from time to time, the only problem is it’s a maze for someone who doesn’t live there. The streets are not labeled or numbered clearly, so it’s easy to get lost if you don’t know where you are going.

Lluciel’s on road 9, has been written about. I believe a writer in a very prestigious magazine said that Lluciels has the best burger they have ever tried. I have tried their burgers and I have to admit that they are DAMN good. The food at Lluciels makes you feel like you’re at your Grandma’s and you are having a home cooked meal. Friday’s they serve all day breakfast.

Jareds Bagel’s is on the same road a Llucie’s. I don’t know about you, but some times when I’m here I have cravings for foods that are unavailable here. As the years roll by, more and moe of my cravings are being satisfied. Jared’s Bagels are an excellent supplement for the fresh Jewish bagels used to buying in Montreal. 

Cuba Cabana (road 7) is a very cool place to go to there are 3 different seating areas. You have the outside area, which is very pleasant. In the evenings it has romantic atmosphere. In the building are 2 other seating areas. The first one you come to is very hip and funky, if memory serves me correctly the furniture is purple velvet. For some strange reason reminds me of the new Alice in Wonderland movie. The thrid area is very comfortable. It has a ‘natural’ feel to it with big white soft couches and a coffee tables. The food there is very tasty too. I can’t pin point what genre of cuisine it is, I think it’s a mixture of many.

San Marino- Korean

I  had never tried korean food before going to San Marino. I have to admit that the food was delicious and fresh. A Korean woman owns the place and over sees every thing that is served. If Koreans and other Asian’s eat there, then you can rest assure that the food is good.

Fuego

Bandar Mall in Maadia, has Chili’s, a bowling alley, cinema and a fancy restaurant called Fuego. Fuego is one of the Tuesday Nighters favorite places to go for a meal in Maadi. I have to admit that it is one of mine too. The cuisine is excellent. I have never had a bad experience there. The service is sterling and the management is top-notch. I was a witness to an incident where a colleague of mine had ordered sea food soup and not only did it smell fishy but it tasted too. The manager came over and apologized for the mishap, took the item of the check and gave her complimentary desert. 

Bukhara (Indian)

Karven Hotel’s Massala restaurant, in Heliopolis is the reason why I enjoy eating Indian food. Bukhara in Maadi is another place to go to if you enjoy Indian cuisine. The ambiance of the restaurant is simple, yet comfortable. I was there after having taken Grade 5 on a school trip to the Cairo Museum. Most of the children are only exposed to fast food and oriental food, so for most of them it was a new experience. The kids devoured the food on their plates and they really enjoyed the naan bread with the selected dips. Children can be the toughest food critics, so if they eat and enjoy the food then it must be good.

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I just recently celebrated my 32nd Birthday. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to spend any part of the day with family. They live in another city, (Alexandria) and I couldn’t be with them due to work. They were the first to send me birthday text messages and call me, because the date is forever engraved in their memory, (and they LOVE me to pieces). My celebration with them will be postponed until the weekend and I am truly looking forward to it.

My colleagues and friends in Cairo once they found out that is was my Birthday, they made sure that it would not be an unnoticed or quiet affair. My co-teacher told the students that she would bring in a cake, plates and candles for them to celebrate. They took the initiative to participate in the celebration and contributed as well, bringing chocolate to share, home-made cupcakes, pop corn, dozens of balloons blown and tied on the bus on the way to school as well as hand-made cards. I was deeply touched by the effort that they made and the gesture.

My Birthday fell on a Tuesday this year. Every Tuesday evening, my friends and I make a conscious effort to break the grueling routine of the week and meet up for a movie, arcades or dinner some where in Cairo. The turn out isn’t always big, due to traffic, work load, kids and other things that tie us up. That night, we were expecting around ten to twelve people to show up, but to my surprise 21 one people put everything on hold and came out to Le Pacha ( a boat on the Nile with many restaurants) to celebrate my birthday. Having my friends around me when I couldn’t be with my family was comforting and the best substitute I could have ever hoped for. I was deeply touched and as I looked around the table at all the faces that had congregated for the occasion, I couldn’t help but think ” I am lucky and I am liked”. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends or present.

The celebrations continued to the following evening where a few of my girlfriends and former work colleagues came over to my house to celebrate my birthday. Even though we had agreed that we would be ordering in food, they went out of their way to bake me some cupcakes and make a cherry cheese cake, (which is my favorite). We  sat around talking, catching up on each others news and telling each other stories as we dug in to our Thomas pizza. In the midst of their visit I also had an unexpected visitor who turned up at my house to surprise me with a gift. A colleague from work hadn’t wanted to embarrass me at work with a singing helium balloon and a gift, so she decided to pass by and give it to me in person.

It’s people like these who make your birthdays special and whom make you feel special. They keep insisting that ‘I Am Special’. I don’t see what they see in me, but I’m going to take their word for it. (I still think it’s them that make me special, because they  see something in me and they help to bring out the best in me)

I leave today, to spend the weekend with the most important people in my life and whom make every Birthday a special one.

I know some people like to go all out when they celebrate their birthdays to make them memorable, I personally find that the simpler the celebration and the lower your expectation is the more enjoyable and authentic it is.

So, I would like to thank every single person, who sent me a text message, called me and made an effort to see me for my birthday. I truly appreciate it.

 The working week can suck you in to a routine very easily. When the cycle of that routine is in motion it becomes very hard to break. You find yourself waking up each morning going through the same motions over and over again as though you were working on a production line or being stuck doing the same thing day and day out like  Bill Muray’s character in the movie ‘Ground Hog Day’

 Get dressed, grab a bite (if you have time), get in your car, drive to work, go to your desk, turn on your computer, answer your e-mails and phone messages, down 3 to 4 cups of coffee, order food, work some more, turn off your computer, brace yourself for the long drive home, get home and collapse. Then you wake up to do the exact same thing the next day. Does that sound about right for most of you?

 Well, that was what it was like for me when I first moved to Cairo four years ago. I knew  a handful of people so my social life was close to non existent. It was mainly work and no play. Until, I was introduced to a group of long time friends who called themselves ‘The Tuesday Nighters’”. The founding father’s of this group met in university and have maintained their friendship since. One of the ways that they did this was by meeting up after work almost every Tuesday to catch up on each other’s news and to just hang out. The idea grew from there and more of their friends and acquaintances began to take part in the weekly tradition.

 The day before or early on a Tuesday morning the ‘Tuesday Nighter gmail, e-mail thread would begin with ideas and suggestions of places to meet up for dinner, a movie to catch, a show to watch or someone’s house to socialize at. Tuesdays, like our weekends have become a sacred day. It’s a day in the middle of the week to allow ourselves to forget our woes, to relax and enjoy being in the company of friends who are guaranteed to make you laugh until your sides ache and the tears come streaming down your face.

Every Tuesday is different. We try to take into consideration everyone’s interests and the driving distance that they would have to endure. One week we might all make our way down to Maadi to go have dinner at Fuego just to give those who live in that part of Cairo a break. We might decide to give the people who live in Zamalek, Mohendiseen and 6th of October City a rest from battling traffic and go to La Bodega, Sequoia, Charwood or even Carnivore for sheesha and a meal. When we are in each others company we can’t help but be loud and laugh. On many occasions I have noticed people sitting near us look over and try and eves drop on our conversation or just burst out laughing. Other’s have a look of longing and wish they could be sitting with a group of people who are out purely to enjoy their time together. The waiters on the other hand might not always share the same opinion, especially when some members of the group spontaneously do an impromptu S.T.O.M.P routine, taping plates, glasses, empty soda cans and other objects on the table with their chop sticks. The secret to our enjoyment is really simple. We don’t really care  who has what, or who has the latest phone or designer hand bag or if we are at some swanky place, where we have to pay over 200LE to get in. It’s us who makes the place enjoyable, not the place that make the outing enjoyable. The most important ingredient of all is that we genuinely really enjoy each other’s company. Sure there are times when we have Alley McBeal moments and you just want to punch someone in the face for having kept the group waiting an hour, or for not being able to make a decision, but HEY! That’s life, and if you don’t let things go…then you just turn in to a sour puss and you loose out on having a fabulous time!

 It’s always nice to see familiar and friendly faces outside of the work place and on a few occasions new introductions to the group are made. Some grow to be frequent members while others think we are a bit too much.

 Our Tuesday nights out with each other give us that extra boost to help us trudge on to make it through the week.

The extent of our friendship and commitment to one another does go beyond just hanging out and dining. We are quite a close knit group of friends who are there for each other in times of need.

 If I hadn’t met this group I honestly don’t know what my life in Cairo would have turned out to be like. What I love most about them is that not only do we ‘CLICK’, we understand each other and we respect one another enough to be able to give our honest opinions about what ever it is we think and feel.

We enjoy each other’s company so much that we try and meet up for breakfast some times on a Friday morning at Lluceil’s, or arrange to have a BBQ out in Waddi Digla, going sight seeing in Cairo as a group to places that we know we would probably never ever get around going to on our own, having an air hockey tournament and sometimes just going away for the weekend to Ein Sokhna or even going away on vacations together.

 It’s important to have a group of people that you are comfortable with and enjoy being with. If you do have a group of friends like that, or if you find people like that. Hold on tight to them because they are very rare to come by. What I love most about being with my shilla (group), is that my guard is let down, I’m relaxed and I can be myself and not have to worry about what they are thinking or saying behind my back.

 If you and your friends have been bogged down with work and have been promising to make plans to meet up soon with one another, but it never happens because something always seems to come up. Well, maybe you need to find time. Your work will always be there waiting for you tomorrow, but friends can give up or move away. There is no time like the present. Set a date and make a plan and trust me, it will lift your spirits and you’ll be glad that you made the effort.