I haven't been keeping up with this blog lately. Things have been hectic and busy and I haven't know exactly where to start I've done so many things that have been worthy of writing about, but I haven't taken the time to actually do it. I have pictures to share, recipes to write, and tales to tell. Most of these will have to wait for another day, however, because on Wednesday I did something that I've dreamed about since the love of cooking entered my life. Perhaps it was that first whiff of saffron that inspired me, or maybe it was when I cooked my first curry, I'm not really certain. It might have even been this scene in the Indian Jones...
No I didn't face down a sword wielding assassin with my trusty side arm... I went shopping in the biggest baddest bazaar of all time. The measuring stick against which all other markets are judged. I visited the Khan el-Khalili.
The first place our guide (Shaimaa) took us, was to a shop just outside the Khan. When I told Shaimaa that I wanted to see the spice market she asked me if I wanted to look or if I wanted to buy. I said both... so she took me to a little shop on the main road outside of the Khan first. It was a crowded little store with cases full of leaves and powders. Many of them I recognized, but many of them I did not. It wasn't a beautiful place. It was dusty and busy... but it was full of things that I wanted for my kitchen. Shaimaa explained that while the spice market in the Khan was beautiful it was for tourists. Most Egyptians prefer to buy their spices in a place where the prices are fixed and fair.
Walking along the street leading into the covered area there were tons of stands selling goods for Egyptians rather than tourists: Camel and donkey tack, cooking utensils, utilitarian baskets, plastic junk and dangerous looking street food.
After all I've read about it and all the pictures I've seen, I must say that I was a tad bit disappointed. There were only a few shops and while they had some spices it was nothing compared to the shop our guide showed us at the beginning of our journey. One thing I can say about it, however, is that it is extremely photogenic. Perhaps that is why you always see it pictured in the guide books. The baskets of spices and bags of mysterious powders certainly look intriguing.
But these are tales for another day...