Shar in Egypt Part II: Graffiti and Baking Mishaps

the dinner party

Shar and I decided to take it easy yesterday morning and opted for a long, sunny walk around Maadi with our cameras. On the morning runs, I always notice tons of graffiti along certain walls but I never took any pictures of it. Since Shar also likes graffiti, I figured a street-art tour was the right way to go. We walked the same streets we run on at 5:30 in the morning, but they look completely different in the sunlight. So staggeringly different that it’s like being in a totally new place.

There were lots of different graffiti murals, but I’ve posted the ones I like the best. We also saw a lot of stuff signed by Ultras, which we later found out is some kind of athletic supporter group.

i think it might have something to do with police response to protesters

remember remember the 5th of november


After the walking tour concluded, we went back to the apartment to order lemon juice and begin baking for the dinner party we were hosting that night. (I use the term hosting very loosely; I basically just offered up the apartment.)

As we waited for the lemon mint juice, we snacked on these strange berry-fruits that I tried for the first time at Simon’s house a few weeks ago. They taste very tart, and almost have a mixture of an orange, citrus flavor and mango. Mo says they’re called harankash.

We tackled the Irish potatoes first, and they turned out perfectly. Then we moved on to the Bailey’s double chocolate fudge cookies, a recipe I hadn’t tried yet but had published in the BCA magazine. Excited, we got to work. It should be noted here that Shar and I are both baking gurus, and enjoy whipping up delectable desserts in our own kitchens at home that always satisfy many a watering mouth. But somehow, when it comes to baking together, we can never get it right. (Like the time in college we baked cookies using confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated. Whoops.)

The butter, a strange, radioactive yellow color, did not soften or whip smoothly. Instead, it floated around in the 8 tablespoons of Baileys like wayward buoys. We mixed in the rest of the ingredients until the mixture, which should have been creamy and soft, formed a hardened, chocolate-colored brick. While Shar kneaded it with her hands, I went about chopping up a nasty white chocolate bar to make white chocolate “chips.” I then had the brilliant idea of putting the bar in the oven to soften, but pulled it out too late and ended up cutting up pieces of melting chocolate that looked like exploded marshmallow bits.

mouth watering yet?

Finally, we put the brick in the refrigerator to cool, thinking the worst was behind us. I turned to find Shar staring at the countertop full of ingredients.

“Oh my God.”

“What is it? Did we use the wrong sugar again?” I asked, horrified.

“We didn’t use any sugar!”

“How is that possible!”

Frantically, we analyzed the recipe in the magazine and found that, while sugar was listed as a requirement, it was not included in the list of directions. I checked the website to make sure I hadn’t missed something, but it wasn’t listed there, either.

“Look there,” Shar pointed at a picture on the recipe site. “There’s sugar in there. We were supposed to mix it in at the beginning.”

Determined, we removed the brick from the fridge and added the 2+ cups of sugar. The mixture was so dry that we began liberally pouring Bailey’s into it until, half the bottle later, we obtained the creamy consistency we’d longed for. We plunged the beaters into the batter to mix, but they seemed to be overworked. A terrible burning smell began to drift up from the appliance until suddenly it just gave up. We finished the rest by hand and threw them in the oven. While the first batch came out tasting like solidified Baileys, they ended up tasting phenomenal later and were a hit.

Aside from the tasty desserts, I barely fulfilled my duties as a host. I purchased paper products to serve the food on and forgot to send a mass text that the elevator was broken. (Susannah and I got stuck the other day and realized that the elevator will stop at every floor except for ours.) Mo came over to my ill-equipped kitchen and cooked the meat and some amazing potatoes (he makes them with Gouda and cooking cream and they taste like heaven) and Simon came over shortly after with fruit. I luckily had the door open when he arrived; he’d taken the elevator and was trapped. I could hear him pounding on the door and shouting, but we were able to send him up to the next floor.

The men cooked while Shar and I sat at the table listening to music. It was enjoyable, though they both commented on the irony of the dinner party. Ryan came later with a tasty dessert and Sarah, Will, and Paul arrived with gin and beer. The food tasted absolutely fantastic. We gorged ourselves on it and snapped a few pictures that looked like they should be put in a family photo album somewhere.

simon's grape/harankash alternating fruit salad

sears-style family portrait

After dinner, some of us went downtown to the Jazz Club, a place I’d never been before that played sort of terrible music and didn’t take requests. We got home after 2 and Shar and I sat in the kitchen eating the remainder of the cookies from earlier.

The night ended by coming full circle in terms of cooking luck. As I sat at the computer, the screen dimmed and the power went out. I was having trouble putting two and two together, so I got up and opened the fridge door to see if the power had indeed gone out. It had, but as I pulled the door open, I heard a crash and saw the bowl containing our Irish potatoes come tumbling out onto the floor.

And so, I crawled around the kitchen floor on my hands and knees at three am trying to salvage the tasty little cinnamon-covered balls while Shar stood in the doorway laughing. All in all, a very successful night.

(Have I mentioned that I have the best friends you could ask for? Genuinely good people, amazing company, and apparently Top Chef-worthy cooks who never fail to have me in stitches all night long.)

how can you not fall in love with this place?

Categories: Egypt

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