My name is Noor Amr and I moved from Cairo, Egypt last semester to join the wonderful class of 2015 here at Willamette! Being a full-time international student has been and will continue to be a unique and fulfilling experience.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a global nomad, which can be explained by the constant global change in my life. I was born in Italy and moved to New York shortly thereafter. At the age of five, I moved back “home” to Egypt and lived there all through elementary, middle, and high school.
The Egyptian revolution erupted in January of my senior year, however, causing a large portion of my international school to evacuate all over the world. This included some of my teachers, and there was a possibility that my class was not going to graduate. Fortunately, everyone returned by May and we graduated at the Pyramids together.
It is difficult being away from home especially with the current turmoil. Willamette, however, has made my sacrifice well worth it. We all miss a home-cooked meal from time to time. To comfort me, some of the Goudy staff offered to cook Egyptian food if I brought them my mother’s recipes! I might have to take them up on it sometime. Although there are many intricate, tasty, Egyptian dishes, I am going to introduce you to the two staple foods that the average Egyptian lives off of: Ful Medames and ‘Eish Baladi.
1. Ful Medames
This is the biggest Egyptian staple due to its versatility. Ful (made of fava beans) can be prepared simply or can be mixed with eggs, sausage, and basterma (air-dried, cured beef).
Ful is made in an “edra” which is a slow cooker and is typically cooked over night in preparation for breakfast.
Historically, Ful did not used to be made at home like it is now. When my mom was young, a man would pass every street in the neighborhood with a Ful cart. My mother and her siblings would run down to the street with their bowls so they could grab their breakfast. How’s that for sustainability?
The great thing about Ful is that it is affordable for all Egyptians. In addition, it is a great source of energy and is very filling. Have you ever wondered what Falafel is? Falafel is just grinded up Ful!
Every Egyptian mother and grandmother has their own secret recipe based on family and geography. My mother is Alexandrian and this is her special twist:
Prepare a bowl of ful
Squeeze half a lemon
Add 1 tbsp. of veggie oil
Add a dash of salt
Add 1 tsp. of cumin
Chop up half a tomato
Add a quarter cup chopped parsley
Add a dash of garlic powder
Add a tiny dash of crushed red peppers
Mix it well and as we say in Egypt, bil hana wa al shiffa. Translation: may you have your meal in gladness and health.
Coupled with Ful Medames is the other major Egyptian staple: baladi bread. In Arabic, bread is “eish” which also means “life”. “Baladi” means “of the country” so “eish baladi” is the bread of the country or metaphorically speaking, the life of the country. Every Egyptian household carries eish baladi. It can be eaten alone or made into a sandwich. My favorite: Ful sandwiches. Mmm!