Luxor: The Street Food
I didn’t spend as much time in Luxor as I did in Cairo, but I enjoyed it a lot more. There are just as many people trying to make a living off of tourists, but they have a much better sense of humor about it. One thing Luxor did have in common with Cairo was that the street food was much better than the restaurant food.
Luxor, formerly Thebes, is situated on the East Bank of the Nile about 400 miles south of Cairo. It has its own temples, including Karnak, the most impressive site I visited during my trip. If you cross over to the West Bank you can visit many other amazing sites, including the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsut. On the way to these sites the road passes through fields of both wheat and sugar cane. We passed by several people transporting the sugar cane on donkey-driven carts, as well as a small rail system set up to transport the harvested cane. There were even kids wandering along the side of the road chewing on the fresh cane. So when I was in Luxor after a long afternoon of sightseeing, and I came across a juice stand selling (among other things) fresh sugar cane juice, I knew what I wanted.
For 2 LE (about 40 cents) I got this large glass of frothy, cold juice. It was more than just sweet, though it was certainly that, there was a definite vegetal quality to the flavor. You could tell that what you were drinking came from a plant, rather than a fruit. It was also cool and refreshing, which was perfect after a hot, tiring day.
After the tour I took, I asked my guide if he could recommend a place to get some sandwiches. He took me to a busy intersection in the middle of Luxor, where there was a roadside place selling those old Egyptian standbys, taamiya and fuul. Knowing that the sandwiches were small, and not having eaten anything that day, I asked for two of each sandwich. What I didn’t realize was that each order was actually two sandwiches, meaning I got eight sandwiches instead of four. Oh well, I ate them over the course of a couple of hours. And the total cost was 5 LE, about a dollar. It was interesting to compare the sandwiches to the ones I’d had in Cairo; the Luxor taamiya was much better seasoned, though a little on the crispy side. The fuul wasn’t as heavily seasoned in Luxor, but the fava bean mash was paired with a spicy hummus which added a different dimension to the sandwich.
I left Luxor early the next morning, so I didn’t get a chance to try any more street food. The streets are lined with people selling all manner of bread, pastries, and more. I even saw someone in an alley deep-frying some unidentifiable white spheres; if I hadn’t been so full I would have stopped by to see exactly what they were. Suffice it to say that Luxor is a great place to eat street food. My next post will be about the restaurants, where I did not have such a good experience.