Traditional Egyptian Hospitality
Guess what I got to experience here in Cairo, Egypt? I got to have a traditional Egyptian dinner with my friend, Mohammed, and his beautiful family! This experience was a huge highlight on my journey so far! I got to see how a very traditional family in Egypt has dinner, and how they show hospitality to their guests. Hospitality is the way you treat guests when they are visiting your home. If you are very hospitable, you are very nice to them to make sure they are comfortable and happy.
One major part of traditional Egyptian hospitality is making sure you are very full from delicious food. Not only did I get to eat delicious, traditional food, but I also got to wear some traditional Egyptian Muslim clothing! Remember, Muslims are people that are part of the Islamic faith. Muslims pray to their God, Allah. The best part of this experience is that I got to take pictures of this great event to share with the class!
I learned from my friend and guide, Mohammed, that it is very traditional for new friends to visit one another’s homes to have dinner. Mohammed told me, “I’m going to show you real Egyptian hospitality! You can come to my house. My wife can make you delicious food and you can meet my family.” I replied, “Mohammed, will you really take me to your house?” Mohammed answered, “Nobi, I know you have a good heart, so for you, I would love to have you over for dinner!”
Mohammed calls me “Nobi” because it is easier for him to say than “Noble.” In the Arabic language, there are no words that end with the letters “-le”, which is very common in English. Can you think of some?
I told Mohammed that I would love to come over to his house! He told me that he was going to let me wear one of his traditional Egyptian Muslim gowns when I arrived. This is an article of clothing that looks like a dress for men, and many Muslim men around the world wear this type of gown. I couldn’t wait to meet Mohammed’s family and wear his clothes so I could see what it is like to be an Egyptian!
What tradition did I learn about?
The tradition I learned about was Egyptian hospitality. When I went to Mohammed’s house for dinner, I got to meet his two gorgeous daughters, and his pretty wife! I said, “Salam,” when I entered their house. “Salam” is an easy was to greet someone or say goodbye to them in Arabic. “Salam” means “peace” in English.
One of Mohammed’s daughters was really friendly and funny. The other daughter was very shy. I also met the rest of Mohammed’s family that lived in his home. In Egypt, it is traditional for a family to have the grandfather, grandmother, mom, dad and children all under the same roof! Also, Mohammed’s younger brother lives at his home also. It was really a full house! I loved the strong family connection that I saw because it meant that everyone was being taken care of.
When dinner started, my eyes went wide when I saw the dinner spread. A “spread” is everything that is being served for dinner. Our spread included very traditional Egyptian food. There was baked chicken, cilantro, cucumber and tomato salad, potatoes in tomato soup, rice, and even koshari! “Koshari” (pronounced koh-sha-ree) is noodles and rice with a little tomato sauce and garlic. After that huge meal I was so full!
However, it wasn’t over yet! They brought me delicious, fresh mango juice for dessert! How could I resist the juice of my favorite fruit that is so sweet and delicious? Then, after the fresh mango juice, we all had 7UP soda. Mohammed told me that it is normal to have 7UP after a meal to help the stomach to settle.
Why does the community have this tradition?
I think the Egyptian community has the tradition of showing hospitality to their new friends because it is a way practice Islam. Being a good Muslim is extremely important to Islamic Egyptians. I learned that one way to be a good Muslim is to share what you have with others, especially if others don’t have what you have.
For me, Mohammed was sharing his family and homemade food with me because I don’t have my family, or homemade food since I am so far away from home. Even though I am sad to be away from home, it was so nice to be able to feel like I was at home at the house of Mohammed and his wonderful family.
Is this tradition connected to its environment? How?
The tradition of Egyptian hospitality is connected to the environment of Egypt. Mostly, ingredients used to make all of the delicious dishes I got to eat with Mohammed’s family were from Egypt. Actually, I have never tasted cucumbers as delicious as the cucumbers that are grown here in Egypt. Another food that is grown in Egypt is wheat and rice which they use to make the Egyptian special dish, koshari.
I will never forget the hospitality that Mohammed and his family showed me at his home in Egypt. Also, the pictures I have of the event that I will share with all of my family, friends and, of course, my class connection in NYC!