A healthy lifestyle is all very well and good when there are no important things going on. Fortunately for us, there’s always an excuse
to have our fill of delectable dishes and fabulous foods in sunny Egypt.
The excuse we pick this particular week is that summer is well and truly underway, with heat waves to match, and summer- as any Egyptian worth his koshary will tell you – is the season of the noble mango and the vivacious prickly pear.
The absurdly high piles of fruit are the most decisive blow to the laws of physics since the Higgs Boson fiasco. Somehow, impossibly, these harbingers of sticky delight sell out regularly.
With regards to the prickly pear, there is only one real way to enjoy it. That is to wade through the desiccated corpses of pears eaten before their time to the rickety cart buckling under the weight of an orchard’s worth, ask for exactly one teen showky and bite into the skinned flesh right then and there. Forget marmalades, juices or any fancy culinary uses, this juicier version of a watermelon will have you camping by the poor vendor’s cart until your wallet gives in or his patience does.
The mango is much more versatile in Egyptian culture. Don’t get me wrong, your trashcan at home should already be littered with mango skins sucked dry of any flavour and moisture. Nothing can replace the taste of a fresh mango. Mango juice is a popular runner-up this time of year however, as everywhere from upscale cafes to the neighbourhood ahwa stock up to fill the craving.
Mango chutney is also somewhat of a fad this time of year, with those able to do so munching on mango-slathered croissants for breakfast for a solid month. When it comes to the mango arena, however, there is a clear champion. One whose time is nearing and who forces competitors to collapse into quivering blobs of mango-jelly.
That, friends, is the famed konafa bel manga or mango konafa. It is astounding how quickly dessert shops can serve up plate after plate of the king of sweets because demand becomes astoundingly high during Ramadan. Ramadan, when enthusiastic grandmothers prepare every type of food under the sun out of sheer boredom, is utterly dominated by konafa bel manga.
To reiterate, summer is upon us. Stock up at your smiling local vendors when you can and check that they aren’t smiling because they are charging you a hundred pounds per mango.