Wednesday afternoon we boarded the train for what was scheduled to be a twelve-and-a-half hour ride to Cairo. The train left on time and was only about an hour late arriving in Cairo, which is pretty good from what we can tell.

Everyone we talked to who had been to Cairo suggested that we only spend enough time their to see the sites (the pyramids, the sphinx, and the Egyptian Museum). It’s big, loud, and a layer of smog hovers over the city much of the time.

What saved Cairo from being as bad as advertised was the food. Some dishes such as baba ghanoush can be found throughout Egypt, but each city had its own local cuisine, too. While we quite enjoyed the food in Luxor and Aswan, Cairo’s was the best, particularly a dish called koshari. It’s a poor man’s meal, made of macaroni, noodles, brown lentils, chickpeas, and caramalized, fried, crispy onions (the pieces looked like overcooked corn flakes), all topped with a spicy tomato sauce and usually a lemon and garlic sauce.

At one of the more upscale koshari restaurants (many just serve this one dish), we spent 15 Egyptian pounds, less than €2, and we each got large dishes of koshari and a can of Coke (in Cork, €2 won’t buy an 8-ounce bottle of Coke in most restaurants). While koshari may not sound like much, we had it twice in our three days in Cairo and hope to recreate it now that we’re home.