It seems the only way to describe the dominance of yesterday evening is to use a word not once seen in the English language. "Epicness" is simply defined as being beyond what is commonly known as "epic." An example would be my brother setting up a makeshift tent in the Slovakian forest using none other than Christmas Tree-templated table cloths.
What was so epic, you ask?
Tom Gara and I holding court over a local BBQ restaurant and serving up one helluva feast to 23 of our close, personal friends.
The night started at about 7:30pm. Tom and I made our way down to the restaurant clad with spices, soy sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar, vegetables, and garlic. We had, in the offing, half a lamb, five chickens, and an indeterminate amount of kofta meat. This had been negotiated the night before and left us drooling for the chance to cook it up.
Once at the restaurant, the necessary preparations were made. Tom handled the vegetables and the chicken, while I set to work on flavouring the three-and-a-quarter kilos of lamb. Our menu:
- Honey-Soy Sauce-Garlic Chicken
- Grilled vegetable salad
- Cumin-Coriander-Lemon-Garlic-Turmeric-Oregano Lamb Kebabs
- Balsamic-Garlic-Oregano Lamb Kebabs
- Fennel-Coriander Lamb Kebabs
- Mango-Mint Lamb Chops
- Cinnamon-dusted Crispy Lamb Fat
A spread fit for a pacha (duke). The workers in the restaurant seemed overly fascinated by what we were doing to the meat. Egyptians tend to like their meats boring and uneventful, and are often unwilling to delve into the world of flavour. As such, we made sure each and every one of them sampled our creations. One man in particular practically inhaled a piece of chicken after some initial apprehension.
I went into the grilling part of the evening with the expectation of a few surface burns. What with all the scalding hot metal, sizzling oil, and fiery coals, doubt never entered into the equation. I was rewarded some fifteen minutes in after I had accidentally grabbed the coal-moving iron in the wrong place. Ouch!
Being the men behind the grill was as liberating as it was manly. Our galabeyas proved impervious in the face of blasting heat, which was quite a relief after some initial fears that we'd pass out from heat exhaustion. But once we got the meat on the skewers and the chicken on the racks, all was forgotten.
Each serving of meat was promptly devoured the second it hit the table. Tom served his chicken and vegetables on giant silver platters, while I went with the "Get out of the way! Hot kebab skewers coming through!" technique. The fennel-coriander and the mango-mint definitely rocked the lamb world, while Tom's chicken was cooked to nothing short of perfection. I think all involved would say it was a feast for the ages.
The surprising, but perfectly fitting end to the evening came at the hands of a local policeman. Tom and I were happily BBQ'ing the last of our glorious meats when the said policeman walked up to us and asked us where the Prince Restaurant was (in Arabic). Bells started going off when I realized that I knew where the place was, so I promptly explained to him where he needed to go (not that it required much explanation). This provoked a chorus of laughter from the Egyptians restaurant workers, who all seemed to think it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen. Perhaps it was. It still surprises me to this day when locals come up to the only two white people around and ask for directions when Egyptians are present.
A big goes out to Tom, the El Hendawy staff, and everyone who showed up. Let's do it again sometime.