Food in Egypt is intriguing. Although I have food phobias, I also have a strange obsession with reading about food, or looking at food: as a child, while reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books, my favorite parts were reading about the food they ate and how they made it (people don’t make their own butter nowadays, that’s for sure!) And when I bought new things for my doll house, it was always the exquisitely-crafted tiny turkeys and cakes. So, although i may not enjoy eating it, I enjoy reading and looking at it and now…writing about it.
One of the tastiest treats in Egypt has got to be Todo. Todo is like the Hostess brand of Egypt: they make all sorts of sweet little snacks just waiting for my sweet tooth to devour. I encountered Todo during my first trip to Egypt, but when we went to the supermarket last week it was the first time I saw the Todo cream-filled cupcakes. Of course, I had to get them!
Below is an example of the more traditional Todo, a little chocolate-covered chocolate cake with a layer of chocolate icing. Perhaps French bakeries would sniff at my Todo obsession–Hostess certainly isn’t gourmet–but Todo is a very good dessert, in my opinion.
Continuing on the sweet-tooth craze, my husband picked these treats up from the market one day after work. The Tempo was like a less-sweet version of the Oreo; the HoHo’s were, well, like Hostess Hoho’s (or maybe they look more like Yodels?) Either way, both were tasty, and an interesting fact is that the packaging on both was in French. Not a word of Arabic in sight!
Froot Loops aren’t an Egyptian brand (although I did try the Egyptian version, Temmy’s, which features a crocodile on the box, and they sorely lacked sugar of any nature) but they are one of the few American cereal brands I’ve encountered in the Egyptian supermarket. It’s also funny to see the box, which I’ve been familiar with since childhood, appear in Arabic.
No trip to the supermarket (in Egypt, I’ve gone to both the giant department-store Spinney’s at the CityStars Mall as well as Metro Market, which has a huge candy section and CinnaBon pop-up shop, as well as most recently Omar’s Supermarket) is complete without President cheese. But what I want to know is: is it Egyptian, or French? My aunt brought over President cheese for Christmas Dinner, which makes me want to assume that it is French. But apparently it’s very popular in Egypt too.
And what do I make with President cheddar cheese slices? Grilled cheese, of course! My husband had never had a grilled cheese until I made it for him (oh, the horror!) That’s perhaps because sliced bread is unpopular in Egypt and, also, rather expensive (they prefer their pita bread, baked in open-air bakeries). Rich Bake is the common go-to source for sliced bread (and other bread goods) and I find that I like it more than regular American white bread (of course, it has nothing on French baguettes, but c’est la vie).
When people ask me, “Can you find something normal to eat?” in Egypt, the answer is not only “yes, in the cafes” but also “yes, at the supermarket.” Metro Market would look identical to something like King Kullen, if only King Kullen had lime-and-pepper-flavored potato chips. Oh yes. More on that later.