photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

I spent yesterday evening with some friends and then by 9PM everyone was hungry.  So one of them, who works at a boating operation in Abydos, suggested we ordered “takeaway” (the El Gouna term for take-out or to-go food orders) delivery from a place called Caleo.

I have been here for 6 months, yet had never heard of the place.  Apparently it is across the street for the Post Office (by the GO bus stop to Cairo) in downtown Gouna. We looked up the menu on his knockoff Samsung Galaxy, and the three of us then ordered dinner over the phone.

As we waited, we chatted about whether the Abydos open charter boats are going to Tawila island yet; apparently not: this had something to do with either the ongoing Sinai military operations (some of the islands in the Red Sea by Gouna are off-limits), or the lack of enough customers wanting to go for a day long excursion to that apparently beautiful place (which I hope to visit before leaving).

At any rate the food arrived by tuc-tuc delivery after about 30 minutes. The bill was 260 LE, which is about 15 US dollars, give or take; my share was about half that, and was well worth the price — even though I probably would have paid less if I had covered exactly what I ordered, and not overpaid, as sometimes happens in the confusion of a final bill shared between several people.

(However, you can easily end up paying several hundred LEs for a dinner consisting of a burger and soup and some bottled water or a smoothie at 7th Star in Abu Tig, although that particular dinner combination would cost less at Jobo’s in downtown, but then you would not have the marina view.)

I looked at the three large plastic bags stuffed with food.

There was so much of it!

My friends had mollokheya soup (made from what in English is called Jew’s mallow, which is chopped up using a mezzaluna, or makhrata in Arabic), salad, and charcoal-grilled 1/2 chickens with rice, thick vegetable soup, and a dish made of stuffed cow’s stomach or tripe — which I refused to sample, despite their generous offers to share.

I mentioned to them that my late father used to like mollokheya burani-style, but oddly, they had never heard of it (this form is a much thicker soup: the mollokheya leaves are cooked and served whole with beef) — I guess burani is too old-fashioned a dish for these Egyptian guys, who are in their mid 30s.

I had a bamia (ochra) with meat dish, a type of soup called lessan el asfour (the tongue of the bird), Egyptian bread, salata (salad), and rice with she’ereyya (white rice mixed with thin, brown strands of vermicelli).

The portions were very generous, and frankly it was the most delicious authentic Egyptian food I have had in Gouna during my entire stay here. It would have been nice to have napkins, but then again, we relied on the traditional Egyptian method of dabbing your lips with bread: it does the job just as well!

The food tasted much fresher than Kan Zanman’s fare, which I think a lot of is pre-cooked, frozen, then heated up — or nuked, it you will — with a micro wave oven before serving, although Zomba’s (which has the same owner as Kan Zaman) foul and ta’meyya, with a dollop of tahina sauce pita sandwich (which is made simply at Zomba’s: crushed fava beans, fried in olive oil, served with freshly cooked “falafel”), is particularly delicious at the attractive price of 50 cents.

I plan to go to Caleo’s this week sometime — maybe even today for lunch, before the Real Madrid game at 2PM , and certainly before I move to the new villa on Thursday — take pics, and order a no doubt fantastic mahshi (which they were out of last night).

Stay tuned for Gounaman’s culinary adventures in Paradise!

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