sweet egyptian desserts, part I

While we were in Alexandria, we made it a point to visit a dessert place mentioned in the Lonely Planet, having only had a chance to sample Egyptian pastries. While tasty, they don’t quite qualify as dessert – pastries can be bought at a bakery and enjoyed anywhere, but desserts need to be enjoyed sitting down. Anyway, we walked through some back streets in a semi-residential area – I feel pretty safe here in Egypt especially when there are two of us and we’re moving confidently – and sat down at a small little dessert shack amongst a tonne of women. Apparently, a dessert shop is an acceptable place for them to meet, as this was the largest gathering of women I’ve seen yet in Egypt. The book recommended couscousy, a dessert made with couscous, raisins, coconut, nuts, powdered sugar, and hot milk. While we were waiting, everyone else got served – not that we were waiting long, but everyone else’s orders were ready at the same time, and most seemed to be ordering something white with nuts on top. No kidding, like 80% of the people had this, so we ordered one as well.

The couscousy was pretty good, especially when enough sugar was added, though we could’ve used more milk to give all of it a good soaking. There were almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and pistachios on it which gave it a good crunch, and the raisins (sultanas) gave it depth of taste. Really, a pretty simple dessert, but quite tasty, if not filling.

The other dessert turned out to be chilled rice pudding with ice cream on top and nuts on top of all that. It was really very tasty and the ice cream and rice pudding went together surprisingly well.

It was a very successful dessert-tasting. I just wish we could’ve read the menu – as this place was pretty far out of downtown, it was beyond the reach of tourists and therefore didn’t have a big incentive to translate. Ah well, sometimes the mystery is like a secret sauce…

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