A Culinary Oasis


To say that the food in Jordan and Egypt was disappointing would be an understatement. While reviews on the Internet had readied me for a less than fabulous culinary experience, I was nonetheless surprised. Maybe we didn't venture out to the right places but when you begin your trip by getting some type of food bug at a five star hotel, you become wildly concerned about the quality of food and liquids your putting into your body. Seeing a butchered lamb being transported uncovered in the back of a pickup truck didn't help to boost our confidence.

On the left are some souvenirs we picked up in our travels.

Particularly disappointing was a lunch buffet in a restaurant in Alexandria which looked like a dated wedding facility. I wish I would have taken the time to even look at the name of the restaurant so I could warn people about it, but all I wanted to do was to quickly get as far away from it as possible. We had eaten in some pretty bad tourist trap facilities while in China but this place reset the bar to a height I can't imagine being topped. For 50 pounds (~10 bucks) you could have your fill of white rice, pasta tossed in ketchup, various meats grilled beyond identification, steamed cabbage, bread, salad and some pastries, hum hum (Egyptian for yum yum).

While indulging in my penne ketchup dish, I am rudely interrupted by a now persistent drip from a soon to fall ceiling air conditioner. This is the Egyptian version of torture.

Also disappointing were the a la carte dinners aboard the Sonesta St. Georges. It was as though the chef was reading a poorly translated European cookbook and trying out a recipe for the first time. Criticism aside, the ship was beautiful, buffets were palatable, service was topnotch and the staff were very friendly. Despite the a la carte dinners, I would still highly recommend this cruise line.

On the plus side, the pitas were typically fresh and well made with some amazing dips in some restaurants notably the Fish Market in Alexandria. Kebobs and koftas were generally reliable. Indian food at the Mena House in Cairo was very well executed. Meze was more fun than tasty in the Movenpick in Petra. The culinary highlight for my mom was a white bread sandwich (crust removed) with butter and sliced cucumbers.