I feel another food post coming upon me. I am helpless to resist.
Tonight I made spag bol, that staple of British homes throughout the mincemeat-speaking world. I have eaten a lot in my life. The most has to be during the 9 months I spent in Cairo while on my year abroad for my degree course of Arabic and Islamic studies. Yep, I know... why on earth? Don't go there...
I am blessed with a stomach lined with sheet lead which is handy when living in places with dodgy hygiene. Even so, one should be careful, and I was in Egypt, except one day when a desire for pork chops and sausages overcame me. I went to one of the few pork butchers in Cairo, nestled cosily beneath a slip road onto one of the busiest overpasses in the city. Do I really need to go on? Well, for the very dense, yes, I was ill, a wall of gastroenteritis striking me assunder.
After that I stuck to the tubes of frozen mincemeat bought at what resembled a supermarket. Mincemeat made into every conceivable dish from spag bol to... um... spag bol, shepherd's pie and well, that's about it. It was either that or pomegranites. No, I didn't live off the street vendors selling falafal, etc.. It's oily and boring. Also, I had no money and it was cheaper to self-cater. I drank the tap water, and survived, but did come a cropper with the Episode of the Pork Chop.
You won't be surprised to hear that when I came home I couldn't eat spag bol for over a year.
I'll never forget one disasterous occasion when the 2 girls I was with and I decided to eat at the posh restaurant of Cairo on one of our last evenings. The Cloche d'Or on Zamalek island I think. Don't know if it's still there. We dressed up nicely, and soberly, but the restaurant staff and clients assumed we were prostitutes. Consequently they treated us like shit and our food was practically inedible as they put sand in the dishes so we crunched unpleasantly. I sent mine back, but what replaced it was no better, and someone had probably spat in it too, knowing them. They were quite happy to present us with a bill, however. We didn't stay for a full meal, and I really can't remember if we kicked up a stink. I think not as it was a pretty intimidating place. We had saved up for weeks to go there too. It was to be our crowning golden evening, leaving Cairo with a sumptuous meal. The disappointment was cruel but somehow typified the nature of the year there.
The worst culinary experience I've had since then was frogs' legs, but that's another story...