Oriental bliss comes in myriad little bowls; it’s fresh, creamy and spicy, and you can hardly get enough of it – even in Cairo.
The city is dusty; the city is exciting; the city is really noisy; and the traffic, well, the traffic takes some getting used to. But there are oases here and there in Cairo, too, feel-good places to chill and breathe easily. It doesn’t have to be a garden full of gorgeous flowers, a museum or an oh-so-authentic tea shop tucked away in the last of a series of inner courtyards. Sometimes, all it takes is a restaurant like the Jupiter in Dokki, a district of Gizeh (26, Refaah Street). A bar, a lounge, a dining room, a simply furnished terrace – and a menu that celebrates the great wealth and variety of Middle Eastern appetizers and starters under the the entry “Salads”: kibbeh, baba ghanoush, taboulé, fattoush, tahīna, ta’mīya, baladi, labna, and of course, hummus – who can count the dumplings, praise the purees, name all the dips? They should be smooth, well blended, and contain sesame seeds, olive oil and lemon juice. First you dip your pita bread with antipasti nonchalance into the creams, trace little patterns in them, then raise your gaze briefly to the screen presiding over the proceedings to check whether Mohamed Salah, FC Liverpool player and Egypt’s national soccer hero, has scored another goal, then wipe around the edge of your plate to pick up the last few crumbs and morsels, meticulously, until suddenly – who would have thought it? – all the little bowls and dishes are empty and clean. Now, with the most innocent look you can muster, you turn to the other people at the table with you: “Oh, I’m so sorry, were you wanting to try something, too?”