An Authentically Moroccan Iftar at Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah's La Palmeraie
Capturing the true essence of Ramadan, Mariam Nowar finds herself right around the family table on a Moroccan quest at La Palmeraie's Moroccan Iftar.
The world starts to spin in slow motion, the mumbar aroma begins to fill the place with deliciously happy vibes, and your fidgeting is at an all-time high. Have you simply just forgotten to have breakfast? You are definitely feeling a bit lightheaded, and it’s been a while since you’ve had your last cigarette. But then it hits you right in the face like a deadline you’ve forgotten existed, or like a bus – one that that smells very much like grilled shish kebabs… it’s time for Iftar.However, it feels a lot more like Ramadan when you find yourself minutes before Iftar at a five-star hotel restaurant on the banks of the river, with family gathering chit-chats echoing in the background, the Nile making their presence noticeable with a splash, and vegetable soup suddenly announcing a comeback stronger than Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.
Who are we kidding? There’s no place like home when it comes to Ramadan! Where else would you find auntie Madeeha’s loud scavenger hunt for salt and pepper around the kitchen? Who could replicate grandma’s wide-eyed judgmental glares when cousin Mazen sneaks a bite to eat before the cannon when Madeeha’s too busy looking for spices? When Ramadan isn’t about one too many platters of kofta with tahini and never-ending piles of mango cream konafa, it's – with its annoyingly loud yet rather addictive ambiance – about family.
So when you do find yourself at a five-star hotel restaurant on the banks of the river getting ready for a grilling open buffet Iftar, yet somehow spot taunt Madeeha, Mazen, grandma, sissy Rana, uncle Amr, and the whole fam-bam at Sofitel El Gezirah’s La Palmeraie, you find yourself in unexplored territory. This coincidence seems quite impossible, but it's really just the famish that leads you to believe that they’re in fact the ones echoing in the background.
Filled with intrigue and hunger, you arm yourself with sharpened knives and grilled chicken legs while you start to adapt to what only Dorothy Gale could muster up an explanation for. You find your true home trapped under Moroccan hummus, all the colours of the mahshy spectrum, beef, chicken, grilled veggies, more beef, more chicken, sobya, kharoub, and more beef. You get too comfy you almost start to take your pants off.
Then comes dessert, when you’re normally accustomed to eating berries that are the oriental fat-worm-looking ones that your mother picked out from the local souq. This time, they’re actual berries. Blue, black, rasp, you name it, and all that are definitely not canned. Did we mention basboosa? Or konafa? Or konafa with basboosa? Or konafa with berries and cream? Om Ali was there in physical form, and she spoke words of sweet wisdom.
And it doesn’t end there. The binge transforms into a devilish angel with a big red fork, luring you into a world of post-Iftar indulges. Teapot after the other of Moroccan tea to soak up the chunks of food left un-chewed properly, more guilty rounds back to the grand buffet, a little more sobya, and you immediately wish they served warm duvets and comfy beds, too. Maybe bring along the treadmill next time? We reckon chasing around imaginary cousin Mazen would be enough of a workout.
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