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.