Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bread = Life

In Egypt, the most commonly eaten food among the people has to be "iesh baladi" (pr. long "i", lone "e", sh). This word "iesh" is the Arabic word for bread, and the Arabic word for life. I find this very interesting, because here, without this bread, in some cases, there would be no life.

Bread is an essential part of the Egyptian diet and served with nearly every meal. Access to cheap, ready-baked bread has helped liberate Egyptian women from the kitchen, allowing them to enter the workforce or spend more time with their children.

Traditionally, Egyptians baked bread in their own home. The women of the household would mix flour, water, yeast and salt, then leave the dough to rise. Fist-sized balls of dough were flattened out and left in the sun for an hour, then baked in an oven for 20 minutes. The bread was made in large quantities and what wasn't eaten fresh was consumed the following day.

This bread can be bought very cheaply here. At the bakery I buy from, I pay 3 Egyptian pounds (approx. $.40) for 10 pieces. I understand that in less modern and poorer areas it can be bought much cheaper. It has to be cheap, for it is a staple, and in most homes is eaten at every meal.

I love this bread. It can be eaten with so many foods. Egyptians eat it for breakfast with fava beans, eggs and cheese. It is good with a mixture of vegetables and cheese stuffed inside of it like a pita, and one of my favorite ways to eat it is with dips, such as hummus and tahini.

I have often heard people here say that it is the best bread in the world. I really do not know this for sure, but I do know that if I ever move back to the States, it is one of the foods of Egypt I would miss the most.


  1. YES!! Great posting and observations. It's very hard to find fresh Arabic bread here (I'm in the Washington, DC area), but when we do = Heaven!
    It's also true that bread is interesting depending on what you grew up with. My husband (from Jordan) gets satisfied from Arabic bread, but my main bread is still French bread... When we go to Jordan, I actually make sure to get some to eat so that I get that sense of being full which I don't quite get with Arabic bread... :)

  2. Little P, One thing that I like about this bread is that it makes me full. If I eat it in the morning, I don't get hungry again for a while.

  3. I love any kind of crusty bread and when warm even better. I cannot eat what we call white bread here. It is like a wad of paste when wet and in fact that is what it is. I do eat 100% wheat bread. Good to visit again. Everyone has been busy and so stretched out, it is good to be back to routine.

  4. QMM,
    I try to stay away from white bread myself. I really do not know what kind of flour is really used in this bread, but they say it is healthy. We have a whiter version of this bread that is said not to be as healthy. I do know it has a kind of "bran" effect on me so I don't think it is too bad. ;o)