If you are concerned about what to eat in Egypt during your upcoming Egyptian vacation in the Land of the Pharaohs, you need not be. In fact, it would be virtually impossible for anyone to visit Egypt without discovering countless culinary delights which are downright delicious, and the more adventurous you are willing to be, the more rewarding your culinary journey will be.
As we all already know, Egypt has been shaped by various cultures and civilizations, and all this influence was never limited only to the many archeological sites and much of the architecture which one can still see today.
Instead, each culture and each civilization also left its mark on what sort of food modern Egyptians eat. As a consequence, an average Egyptian diet today is one which has evolved over thousands of years.
Rather than asking “what to eat in Egypt,” it might be better to ask “what not to eat in Egypt” because it would be a far easier question to answer.
Understanding Egyptian Cuisine As It Is Today
As has already been said, the sort of food which is typical in Egypt today has been subjected to numerous influences over the centuries; influences which are still noticeable today. In fact, learning about Egyptian cuisine and the countless different dishes there are, can be an absolute amazing journey in itself, and one which can give you additional insight into the history of this fascinating land.
Greek; Syrian, Lebanese; Turkish, and Palestinian culinary influences are especially prevalent in the modern Egyptian diet, just as they have been for thousands of years already. Many visitors are also amazed at just how widespread British and French food is in Egypt, and the fact that many British and French dining traditions are still practiced by a lot of Egyptians to this day.
Of course, British and French influences arrived much more recently, but they too have become well-established. What makes eating in Egypt even more interesting, is the fact that people in different parts of the country favor different types of food. These differences are particularly noticeable between Egypt’s northern and the southern regions.
For example, the further north you go, and the closer you get to the coast, the more you will come across fish and fish-based dishes. On the other hand, if you head south, you will notice a considerable amount of spicy food which often has a strong North African influence.
Eating in Egypt – What to Eat, What Not to Eat
What to eat in Egypt is essentially something which only you can decide on, but there are a number of things which can help you to know what not to eat in Egypt. This same piece of advice is good advice to follow, no matter where in the world you go, so we recommend applying it when you are in Egypt as well.
If you start feeling hungry and you want to have something to eat when you are out and about, don’t just walk into the first restaurant or see, or sit down at the first café you come across. Instead, try to observe the locals, and then eat at a place which seems to attract a lot of locals.
Just because a particular restaurant or café looks glistening clean, that does not always mean it is really clean in areas where it matters the most, such as food hygiene for example. It also doesn’t mean the the food will be good and of a high quality. If it is practically empty, while the slightly shabbier place next door is busy, then there is almost certainly a good reason for this, and you would be well advised to rather eat next door instead.
Local Egyptians know way more than visitors do about what constitutes good food and what doesn’t, and they are also very much aware of things like prices. So, if you order food from a place which is popular with the locals, you will almost certainly receive good food at a good price too. This doesn’t only apply to restaurants, but also to sidewalk cafes and the various different eateries you will find in the bazaars and markets, not only in Cairo, but throughout the entire country.
Don’t Allow Too Much Caution to Get In the Way
Many tourists who visit Egypt have lived and grown up in an almost sterile environment. While nobody is condemning this, it can and often does result in people becoming almost too paranoid to eat food from any place that doesn’t look immaculately clean and spotless. To a great extent, it is perfectly understandable because nobody wants to get ill while on vacation. However, being overly cautious can strip away a great deal of value from your travel experience when it effectively prevents you from sampling new and often wonderful dishes which you might never have seen before.
In short, decisions about what to eat in Egypt shouldn’t be guided only by things such as perceived food hygiene or a lack thereof. As is so often the case, a little bit of common sense can go a long way in helping you to avoid unnecessary stomach problems. Also if you have, or you plan on booking one of our Egypt tour packages, you will more or less have one of our local Egyptologist tour guides with you at all times, other than during free time and when you are at your hotel.
Our tour guides regularly become long lasting friends with our clients, and for good reason. They are exceptionally friendly and exceptionally knowledgeable, not only about the sites they visit with you, but also about everyday life in Egypt. This knowledge extends to food as well. In short, your tour guide will be more happy to act as your personal food guide as well. So, if you are ever in two minds about what to eat in Egypt or about a particular dish you see on a menu, your guide will always be happy to offer you good honest advice.
Also, if you book one of our Nile River cruises, or one of our other tour packages that include a Nile cruise, you will have even less reason to worry about what to eat in Egypt because our cruises include full board and lodging. This means that all your meals are included in the price. In short, providing you don’t expend too much energy thinking about what to eat in Egypt and what not to eat in Egypt, and providing you are will to try new types of food, your Egyptian vacation in the Land of the Pharaohs can be a wonderful culinary experience.
Native Egyptian Foods
Eating and drinking in Egypt will introduce most travelers to the native Egyptian foods of the country, many of which are already popular in Western countries. Common foods eaten by most Egyptians on a daily basis include things like pita bread, falafel, tahini and hummus, along with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
A main staple of the diet is beans which are prepared in a huge variety of ways. Soups and salads made with meat or fish with vegetables are typical as well. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of local Egyptian people eating a hearty bowl of Ful medames for breakfast. Ful medames is an exquisitely tasting dish made with Egyptian fava beans and a delicious blend of herbs and spices.
Yogurt is also a very common commodity, as is a feta-like cheese called gibna beida, both of which can be found in or alongside many types food in the country. Many traditional Egyptian foods can safely be enjoyed as an inexpensive meal from one of the many “snack bars” found in all major cities, including Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. These are generally quick, clean and provide an easy way to enjoy a nutritious meal when you travel in the country.
What to Drink in Egypt?
There is no reason for you to be concerned about what to drink in Egypt because bottled water and soft-drinks are cheap and readily available. Some caution should be exercised if/when buying refreshments in markets and bazaars which have been made using water, due to uncertainty regarding the quality of the water used.
Is Water Safe to Drink?
In some high-end hotels, and on some cruise ships, water from the faucets is supposedly safe to drink, but this should be clearly stated. Even so, at Egypt Tours Plus, we don’y believe this is the best option and we strongly recommend that our clients only ever drink bottled water, which we even supply free of charge during all tours.
If you would like further information about what food to eat in Egypt and what not to eat in Egypt, or if you would like to find out more about our extensive range of Egyptian travel packages, including our Nile cruise packages, please feel more than welcome to get in touch any time you want, and one of our travel specialists will be happy to answer your questions.
A Souvenir that Lasts a Lifetime
Most people like to buy souvenirs when they travel to Egypt so that once they get back home, they will have something to remind them of their amazing Egyptian holiday. Most people opt for things like ornaments, lanterns, tee-shirts and etc. The problem with souvenirs like this is that they are material goods, and material goods don’t last forever.
If you discover that you love Egyptian food when you are traveling through the Land of the Pharaohs, wouldn’t it be great if you could recreate some of Egypt’s culinary delights when you return home? The good news is that you can!
A short and cooking course in Cairo or elsewhere in the country can provide you with all the knowledge and skills needed to be able to recreate all your favorite Egyptian dishes when you get back home. Once you have learned a few basic food preparation skills and techniques, you will only need to stock up with some essential herbs and spices, and the best place for that would be at the famous Khan el Khalili Bazaar in the heart of Old Cairo.
Armed with your new-found skills, you will now have a lasting souvenir that will allow you to enjoy authentic Egyptian food years and years to come.
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Country Specific Egypt Tour Information
Looking for more information before you decide? We have a specific international guide covering the most important points you need to be aware of before traveling to Egypt.