Tag Archives: chocolate

Amanda’s School Birthday Treats

30 Mar


Just a snapshot of what I took for my kids at school on my birthday (waaaaay back on March 15.) I was trying to find a cake or some kind of big pastry item to take for them, but like most things in Egypt, that ended up being much too difficult. So I bought a huge tin of chocolate truffles, a few Todos (huge HoHo cake type things) for my teacher friends and a bag of Mars bars (which are my favorite chocolate candy bar here.)


I got to have a genuine Egyptian school birthday party! During the last 30 minutes of my KG class, I busted out the truffles, todos and chocolates, was sung to in Arabic and English and got to make all my kids happy with candy. I wasn’t planning on really taking anything to my newly acquired Primary 4 class, seeing as I don’t really like them (no joke,) but I was feeling kind. Sadly, I ran out of chocolates, so before heading upstairs for class, I ran to the store cantina and bought 20 LE worth of Chipsee, or the national brand of chips here. I promised my class that if they all behaved and we got through the necessary chapters in our book, we could have a birthday party. They sort of behaved, and I handed out plates and chipsee to share. My best students got the four remaining Mars bars. 


Another interesting and slightly off Egyptian experience, nonetheless. 


Birthdays in Egypt

24 Mar


This is a birthday cake for a four year old in Egypt. Needless to say, it’s kind of ridiculous.

A) What four year old likes kiwi, pineapple or loads of fruit?

B) What four year old can fit any of this into their mouth without half of it falling on the ground?

C) What four year old can hold a plate weighed down by this amount of frosting, fruit and general nonsense?

The answer to these questions is: Egyptian children. Sort of. Or at least their parents think so. About once a month, I play host to a birthday party in my KG1 classroom. My kids are turning 4 or 5 and their parents want to make a show out of it.

Now, I had my share of birthday parties at school in the U.S., but that meant bringing a tray of cupcakes that we ate towards the end of the day. Or, my mom would make a Betty Crocker cake or two and bring them in to split up amongst whoever came on the last half day before spring break. (March 15 is one of those “inconvenient”birthday times when all your friends are already on vacation for spring break.) I digress.

But in Egypt, a child’s in-class birthday means the following.

  •  A cake (or two or three) the size of said child celebrating their birthday.
  • A “side dish” of mini pizzas, chipsee (the national and omnipresent chip company here), cheese rolls or bags of candy (bon bons.)
  • A separate cake for the teachers (including me, the assistant, all of the other KG teachers and their assistants, the Arabic, music and PE teacher and Ms. Boni, the overseer of all things KG.)
  • Plates, forks, napkins and a massive knife to cut said cakes.
  • Roman candles (not really, but they bring in candles that do wild tricks and are potentially classified as fireworks in the U.S.)
  • Party favors. These can be any one of the following: a glitter pinata, balloons, pens with balloons on the end, various noisemakers, bubbles, silly spray, fake snow, straight up glitter for kids to throw around, etc. It is all very messy, noisy and probably most of these things are not meant to be handled by people under the age of 10. Much less by three year olds.

Birthday are a major deal in Egypt, but after all the show and pounds of cake brought in, none of it tastes good. These are the kinds of cakes that are of course beautiful, but absolutely disgusting! Too much sugar, too much frosting, too much display chocolate, too many “gold” flecks, too much fruit jelly, too much sugared fruit, too much cream, etc. Just too much.

In the end, I will take my small homemade Betty Crocker cake, topped with a jar of cream cheese frosting and a simple candle instead of the horse and pony show that is an Egyptian child’s in-class birthday party.

Heliopolis Food Highlights

21 Mar

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This post includes food items from two separate trips to Heliopolis!

Tasted in January with Amanda’s Mom:

Amanda and her mom took a trip to Heliopolis for a girls’ weekend and ended up discovering delicious mango, strawberry and vanilla bean sorbet at a wonderful French cafe. It just happened to be across from Mubarak’s former palace, or as our taxi driver said (quite adamantly) “Egypt’s palace.” We knew we wanted ice cream and a drink, as we had been walking all over a shopping district in Heliopolis (Shubra), but the ordering process was a bit frenzied, as we had no menus and had to simply point at fellow customers’ tables that featured ice cream, saying “izeen nefs haga,” or “we want the same thing.” It worked out alright, and we each got three delicious scoops of sorbet with fruit underneath and pistachios sprinkled on top. Delicious.

Tasted in March with Brandan:

We went to Heliopolis last weekend for Amanda’s birthday! Though we did not return to the sorbet cafe, we ate amazing (and greatly missed) Mexican food at City Stars (the second largest mall in the Middle East) and feasted on the most culturally diverse breakfast buffet known to man at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Our breakfast included: bacon, eggs, falafel, hummus, pita, doughnuts, croissants, veggie curry, dates, apricots, pineapple, lots of coffee, strawberry and orange juice, potatoes, a california roll and lots of…chocolate. Brandan went up for seconds to make sure we each had enough dark chocolate morsels on our breakfast plates. So delicious and a good meal to start off our second day of shopping and stressful movie watching. (That’s another blog entry for another day. But let it be known that watching movies with Egyptians is…loud. Very loud.) We can’t wait to go back to Heliopolis soon though, even for just enough time to eat at the Mexican restaurant again and sneak away some chocolate from the breakfast buffet.