Sunday, July 15, 2012


Marvellous, sweet, red cherries: first I’ve found them at Spinney’s, the big shopping mall, and then to my surprise I’ve seen them at the local food and vegetable market in Dahar. The cherries are from Alexandria – that’s what I’ve been told at Spinney’s.

That’s new. Years before, there were only imported cherries in some of the other supermarkets. I looked at them and dreamt of the huge, pulpy, almost black cherries from the South of France, Italy or at home. I didn’t buy them because they were, let’s say, rather mature. That’s why my joy about the cherries now is even bigger and the price is ok as well.

Since Spinney’s has opened a branch in Senzo Mall, shopping has become a bit easier. The choice has become manifold and prices are more attractive than in other shops. I also trust frozen products there more whereas one must be aware that the cold chain is not respected in other places. You’ll realise it when you get stomach ache after eating – which is not really funny at all. However, neither Spinney’s nor the other supermarkets have constant supplies down pat. Time after time, exactly those products that I need to buy are missing.

But let’s come back to the delicacies. Now and then, there are real surprises: for example Emmentaler matured for 18 months, or a real Gruyère – no imitations (such as Egyptian or French Emmentaler). My delicate taste does not really appreciate Emmi’s products (for the non-Swiss: this is the biggest producer and exporter of Swiss cheese) but they are anyway better than the everlasting Gouda products (sorry Holland!). Since some time, also real Parmigiano Reggiano and Grano Padano can be found.

Last week, I discovered to my delight several kinds of French cheese specialities, such as a Reblochon de Savoie, a Tomme de Chèvre, a Bûche de Chèvre beside Brie and Camembert.

Hurghada is home for an active Italian community and where there are Italians, there is also Italian food. A family from Milan produces fresh Mozarella Buffalo, Taleggio and other cheese specialities according to traditional recipes and without any artificial additives. There are also Focaccia and Salami to be bought. Somewhere else, one can get fresh homemade pasta. Fresh Italian ice-cream, espresso and pizzas are simply the best from Italians. Thanks to the Italian community, the supermarkets also sell risotto, polenta and aceto balsamico.

Even the variety of bread has multiplied. The Germans are the leaders in this market. There are several bakeries with shops and others only bake upon online-order. That works well and mostly, bread, rolls, pretzels and pastries are good or almost as good as in Germany.

Pork and its specialities can also be bought online. However, I haven’t tried it yet because the portions are too big for me.

Seven or eight years ago this must have been rather different. I was told that people went to Cairo for their monthly shopping, carrying cool boxes with them, because there was not really anything (hygienic) to be found in Hurghada. This has changed a great deal within the last four years.

Please do not misunderstand: I haven’t got anything against the local products. The choice of available fruit is simply fantastic. However, the variety of vegetables is drearier, depending on the season it might be rather tedious – so then I buy frozen or tinned vegetables. With leaf salads, one has to be modest, but with a bit of luck, one can find some nice salad as well. Pita-bread, Romy cheese, olive paste, feta and tahina are part of my diet – but sometimes I miss a good piece of bread, a real pretzel and a savoury cheese.

And what about Swiss chocolate? The Toblerone that is modelled on mountain peaks can be found everywhere but I don’t like it so much. I consider it as a tourist product and it has not much to do with Swiss chocolate. For some time, there were Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate bars made in Switzerland (my everlasting favourite) and such made in Saudi Arabia (non-edible). Both have disappeared and I had to put up with other products.

Yet hey, what do I see there: a full display of Frey chocolate bars? “Migros-Schoggi” (for non-Swiss: a famous Swiss food retailer that sells its own brands) I thought and blissfully grinned to myself. I bought some and gave one of them away immediately.

The only negative aspect: all those imported delicacies cost as much as in Europe or even more and are prohibitive for my local income… but so tasty J!

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