breaking bread (and making it) with the bedouin

While we were out in the desert, the food that we had was not so different from anything else we had had elsewhere in Egypt – foul and shakshoka for breakfast, various vegetable salads for lunch (veggies and tuna, veggies with tahina and feta), baba ghanoug (though made using a campfire, a great practice and something I’d love to do while camping in the future). The cool thing to watch was the making of bread. First off, a pit fire was the only method of cooking, so an oil barrel lid was our cooking surface. The bread dough was made up, a splash of salt water was thrown on, then the bread was spun out thin – kind of like Italian pizza throwing in the cartoons – and put on the hot lid to cook, flipped over after a quick exposure.

It blackened quickly otherwise. While the bread was cooked like this on the top, the eggplants smoldered in the fiery ashes below: multitasking. After all the bread was cooked that way and the fire had burned itself down, the other bread was prepared.

See, bread made the first method was a little crispy and quite thin – good for grabbing pieces of tuna or meat or vegetable, but not so good for scooping up that last bite. So the ashes were scraped aside and a patted-out piece of dough was placed on the sand and covered by sand and ashes to slowly bake. Of course it took longer, so only one was made, but eight or ten minutes later the whole mess was swept aside and voila: delicious cooked bread. A couple of beatings against the flour sack and a little scraping to get any excess blackening off and it was ready to eat.

Surprisingly, there was no ash or sand that we found when we bit down – I’m sure you learn quickly how to work it enough to get both out!

It was a very delicious meal prepared in a very interesting way in a very gorgeous valley with very cool people. It was certainly a learning experience in many ways – I eagerly anticipate my attempts at campfire baba ghanoug now!

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