Thursday December 7th, 2023
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Sometimes something special happens in the city. And when that something is filled with food, all the better, as David Blanks found out at the Taste of Zamalek…

Staff Writer

Any time I can get Lil Orbit mini-donuts and Dixie Cream donuts on the same plate, it’s a good day. Doesn’t happen very often. In fact, it has never happened before, until last Saturday, when the Zamalek Association made this happy pairing possible.

The first time I ever visited the Fish Garden it was for a topless photo shoot. Of me. I played the white slave boy being sold to an Egyptian princess. I have lost track of the artist and don’t know what happened to the photographs. At the time I heard he was selling some of his work to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Who knows?

Many years later, I took my younger hippie princesses there to learn to ride their bicycles. It was much better than the Gezira Club because there were far fewer moving targets. On Saturday we returned for the first time in ages. It was the Taste of Zamalek and it was a smashing success.

In part it was the weather. You usually cannot count on it until after Sham El-Nessim, but the breezes were perfect that day and what we were smelling was lots of tasty dishes from the city’s finest purveyors.

So, in part too it was the food. Beano’s, Makani, Top Dawgs, Ali Baba, Gringos, Cairo Kitchen, Good Cals, Zeitouna Bistro: all were out in force; and the good people of Zamalek and parts beyond were happy to avail themselves of some fresh eats. Even the Nūn Center moved their Saturday Farmers Market to the garden for the day.

In part, it was the Pinot Grigio. This was not for public consumption, but the tattooed, corporate reprobates that I hang out with had loaded up some kids’ water bottles and it did nothing to harm the general sense of merriment.

In part, it was the music. Like Jelly is fun; Miriam Ali elegant; and on this day it was especially moving to hear Ahmed Harfoush sing George Michael’s Faith. Ok, so it’s about some poor bastard who is trying not to fall in love with a chick he knows is going to cheat on him, but never mind that; the “gotta have faith, faith, faith” chorus rang true on Saturday in the heart of a city that has been betrayed in every possible way. The Taste of Zamalek was telling us that things are going to be okay.

Mostly, it was the people. Organizers estimated the crowd at around 5000. It was one big party. And every time you turned around you saw friends, some whom you hadn’t seen for years, which was one of the greatest things about it. To see all these people having fun in the sun and just enjoying the vibe of a Saturday afternoon, as someone wrote on Facebook, “was like bringing Central Park to Cairo.”

Actually, mostly it was one person. Thank you Nihal Selim.

For more photos, check out the full CairoZoom album here. Keep up-to-date with The Taste of Zamalek on their Facebook page here.