This Saturday, 28 September, Nawaya is organising the first Date Palm Festival under the header of Celebrating Egyptian date palm and its people. The festival start at 11am and will run for the whole day; it includes snacks, activities for children and a sumptuous four-course lunch featuring dishes that are all based on dates.
Sara El Sayed, co-founder of Nawaya, an initiative that often organises workshops about composting, urban beekeeping and other environmentally significant issues, explained the reason for the festival: “The area where we work, Abu Sir, is traditionally known for its date palms, especially of the Amhat and Zaghloul kind. Dates are a traditional and very nutritious Egyptian food and they deserve more attention.”
The timing of the festival is no coincidence. “It is harvesting season now and all over the world, festivals are celebrated at the harvest time of traditional crops. We hope that the festival will become an annual event and that in 10 years, there will be festivals all over the country,” El Sayed said. “Besides that, it has been a difficult time and it is nice to have a celebration.”
The festival will take place during the whole day and an entrance fee of EGP 30 per person will be charged; this price will include one activity. There are many activities planned for both kids and adults, including demonstrations and the sale of products made from date palms and their fruits, like furniture made from palm fronds. You can learn how to climb a palm tree and at 4pm, Hanna Barakat will present a lecture about the different kinds of dates and their traditions in Egypt.
A special lunch, consisting of four courses that each feature dates, will be served at 1pm. Two chefs, Ayman Samir, famous for his work in Cellar Door, and Gigi, a local chef who cooks for family and friends, will dazzle your palate with a variety of tastes, including a main course of lamb cooked with dates. The lunch is the first event of Slow Food Cairo, and since the seating is limited to 40 people, it is on reservation only. The price of the lunch is EGP 150 per person.
For those just looking for a snack, they can feast their palates from 3pm onwards in the Tasting Journey, where several chefs and pastry makers introduce a variety of small dishes, from pastries to date coffee to gluten free desserts. Pick any of your three favourites to sample for EGP 15.
“Of course, people are welcome to have their own picnic and we have barbeques available for people to use, all they need to do is bring their own meat and veggies,” El Sayed explained. “The idea is that the festival is a nice day out for families and friends alike.”
Nawaya can be found at the Fagnoon Art School on the Marrioteya road.