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Sunday, March 24, 2013

At the Pickle Factory

Just as no Egyptian meal is complete without bread, very few don't come without pickles - or at least the offer of pickles.  Here is a typical breakfast consisting of a couple of foul sandwiches and a side of pickles.  (Wikipedia seems to prefer the more phonetic spelling "ful," but the spelling on menus is almost always "foul".)

Pickles?  Yes.  Here the word doesn't refer to cucumbers but to pickled vegetables.  The usual pickles are carrots and turnips but you might also find cauliflower and others in the assortment.  Pickled cucumbers are rare, though.  By the way, they are very tasty.  I have often wondered where the pickles come from.  Every little sandwich stand has them.  Restaurants usually offer them for free or close to free.

When we finished our expedition to the Street of the Tentmakers last week, we headed back toward Al Azhar and Khan Al-Khalili.  "Alex" knew a fatir restaurant (think Egyptian pizza) nearby.  We followed him down several narrow back alleys.

Then, we passed by this shop.

I spotted the huge vat of pickles immediately.  And many jars.
EgyptPickle-2 EgyptPickle-3

It turns out that this is a well-known pickle-maker.  This newspaper article from Al-Masry Al-Youm from 2009 tells the story.  It is displayed on the wall opposite the shop.

Just after we left the pickle shop, the lights went out.  Not just the shop lights - every light.  Well, that's a new experience!  It was dark.  Don't move.  Remember those holes in the road that I have shown before?  But this too, is "normal."  Everyone seems to carry a flashlight app on their smartphone and soon small lights began appearing around us.

We moved cautiously for about three blocks.  I noticed that in one coffee/shisha shop, the backgammon players had lit a candle and continued their game.  Once we reached Al-Azhar street, the lights were back on on the Khan side of the street.  We thanked Alex and had our fatir dinner in the Khan.


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