The Coffee Houses of Cairo
I may have left behind a city — Paris — reputed the world over for its café culture, but the street cafés of Cairo certainly had their charm.
These are not the places to sip a frothy coffee in chic surroundings; rather sitting on a street-corner with a shisha and a strong, sweet Arabic coffee, the clack-clack of dominoes striking the table, or backgammon pieces shuffling around a board as a dice rolls over the wooden set.
A morning in Cairo would start in one of these establishments, breakfasting on a fresh faroula juice washed down with a short, strong coffee. The day would end drinking shay bil-nana or indulging in a thick, sweet sahleb, playing tawila and puffing on shisha. In between, numerous stops are made for mowz bil-haleeb and gwafa juices. *
The real allure of these places, though, is the people with whom you share your table, and I was very lucky in who I met. From the games of backgammon in the little back-street café of Mohandiseen surrounded by locals, to the international crowd near Townhouse, to the thriving energy of Bustan, reputed as the local haunt of the intelligentsia, I enjoyed many an evening in good company.