Foods to Avoid in Egypt

Aug 24th, 2007, 04:12 PM
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Foods to Avoid in Egypt

I will be traveling to Egypt in October - 4 night nile cruise and the other 5 nights in hotels in Aswan and Cairo. I've heard horror stories about people getting sick during their entire trip and I want to take every precaution that this doesn't happen to me and my family. Does anyone have any suggestions about foods to avoid/or "safe" foods? Much appreciated - thanks
JANIELOU is offline  
Aug 24th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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We went on a Nile Cruise in March 06 & about 85% of the ship's passengers got sick - we were among the minority who did NOT get sick. We refused to eat fresh/uncooked vegetables, although they looked so delightful - peak of season, etc. - that it was hard to turn them down. We also avoided tea, coffee, reconstituted orange juice (get the stuff in the little containers with the straw attached instead of the "Tang" they make on board the ships) - any hot beverage for which water had not been boiled over a protracted period of time. AND WATCH OUT for seafood!!! The majority of those on our trip who got sick did so after (a) 2 nights of eating lovely salads & (b) 1 night of a seafood buffet. Some of those who got sick were in a bad way for a week or more.

Get your doctor to prescribe something for gastro-intestinal distress & take the filled prescription with you. Be careful of what you eat, no matter how attractive & healthy it might look. And be extremely dubious about seafood!!! My suspicion is that storage is not what it might be in Egypt.

But still - Egypt is lovely & so exciting & I hope you enjoy your stay. But keep in mind as you travel that it is a nest of contagion & the wary traveler is the wise one - who is not tossing his cookies over the side of the river boat!
shedridt is offline  
Aug 24th, 2007, 11:14 PM
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My best advice is to DO NOT over eat at buffets. Buffet food is probably the most dangerous food anywhere in the world. Watch 24 hours or any other news show. They will show you how awful the food can be in any buffet. Egypt does not hold any awards for the worst/most dangerous buffets.

The fresh food of Egypt is really quite safe. Be it seafood, or fruits and vegetables. If Egyptians are eating it, probably it is a good bet to be safe. They are quite particular about their food.

Casual_Cairo is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 04:45 AM
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literally every person on our nile cruise got sick from the food. now when i travel to countries where i think the food will be iffy, i pack some food with me, just things like peanut butter crackers and trail mix. at least that way, your only 2 options won't be either to get sick or starve yourself, which is what i ended up doing for most of the cruise.
farcore12 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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We ate everything and not even a tummy rumble. But, if uncertain, follow the rules established about what should or shouldn't be eaten and you'll probably be fine. Be smart and always, regardless where you travel, have tummy meds.
sandi is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 06:32 AM
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Eating whatever Egyptians are eating may not be the best tactic. There are different bacteria in different parts of the world. Whether or not you get sick is somewhat dependent on what your body is used to.
hills27 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 07:03 AM
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I have often wondered about the possibility of getting some street food, or water, or fruit or something here in the states to build up one's own personal intestinal flora and fauna before a trip. Has anyone tried this? I know it sounds like a crazy idea, but I would love to be able to eat and not worry while on my adventures.
Momliz is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 08:44 AM
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Casual Cairo is right. Buffet food is dangerous. You don't know how long it has been sitting out, or who has been touching it... *shudder*

Cruise boats are dodgy in general. Once there's a glitch in the hygiene routine, (almost) everyone's screwed.

I hope you have at least your Hep A jab...
PrincessOfPenguins is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Momliz - I've eaten street food most places I have ever been (including Egypt - schwarma yum!) and have never been sick from street food. I have been sick after eating meals at "fancier" places.

Lesson learned - I usually stick to the "dives" now. Better food anyway.
PrincessOfPenguins is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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I have to admit....the thought of eating/drinking what the Egyptians do is a bit frightening! Have you ever seen them stop at the sidewalk clay water vessels and drink out the the "common" cup that is usually attached to the clay jug??? YIKES!

Debbie is right, however, that they are particular about their food - but I do think their "careful" and our "careful" are a bit different.

But - to be on the safe side.... stick with bottled water (even for brushing teeth), only eat raw veggies and fruit that you can peel yourself, avoid seafood buffets, avoid drinks with ice (small exceptions at some of the really top resorts), take advantage of the freshly prepared foods at buffets, and avoid lettuce and other "veiny" produce (like fresh spinach or celery).

Taking all that into consideration....my boys still think the fresh fruit that we used to get in Egypt was the best. The stuff in our current location is good - but more limited due to the climate - and still not as good as Egypt. And the fresh watermelon juice that we used to get in a Thai restaurant in Ma'adi is still something they talk about!

Just be cautious, take along some stomach meds and maybe an antibiotic and you should be fine.

Have a great trip!
Grcxx3 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 09:19 AM
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My husband and I spent 2 weeks in Egypt this year. We ate street food and fruit. We drank bottled water but brushed our teeth with tap water. We went on a Nile cruise, and only my husband got sick for one day (3 people got sick on our cruise out of about 100 passengers). I must say, the cruise buffet food looked a bit suspect, but I still ate the fruit, salads, fresh juices (so good!), and yogurts. The only thing my husband had that I didn't touch was the cheese. That said, we've had worse cases of food poisoning in Canada than overseas. Just take the usual precautions but don't become obsessed about what you are eating. Part of the joy of travelling is to experience other cultures. And food is a BIG part of experiencing another culture. Have a great trip!
small_but_feisty is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 05:15 PM
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Momliz, eating US street food wouldn't make a difference on whether or not you got sick overseas. The bacteria in the US is different than the bacteria in other parts of the world.
hills27 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 08:11 PM
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hills, of course you're right. I should clarify: I would like to get some Egyptian food here in the US. I wonder if those fancy yogurts - called Danactive here, don't know in Europe would help build you up, so to speak.
Momliz is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 02:51 AM
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Momliz - I'm not sure if those pre/probiotic yogurts help a lot in preventing intestinal problems. But they are very useful afterwards.

I suffered my worse bought ever on a Nile cruise - the only cure was antibiotics. But my insides were in turmoil for weeks afterwards. Three days of those 'friendly bacteria' drinks got it sorted.
fbirder is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 06:14 AM
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Momliz, your body only builds up a resistance after months, maybe years.

How would you get Egyptian food with Egyptian bacteria in the US?
hills27 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 07:37 AM
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I can assure you that those that come to a foreign country paranoid or certain they will get sick from the food, WILL get sick before they leave. If it is in your head that the food is bad, your body will take that thought and run with it.

90% of those that get sick are the ones that are paranoid about eating anything uncooked, unpeeled, or washed in local water.
90% of those that come ready to enjoy the cuisine, eat the local food and enjoy everything (however don't go crazy - but are adventurous) will be the ones raving about how wonderful everything is and will never get sick.

All you need to know if you do get sick is Antinol. It's a local medicine available at any pharmacy/chemist for about a dollar.

I can't wait to ask about the watermellon juice in Maadi. Thanks for that hint. Meanwhile the local juice shops have mango.....eat your heart out! Yum Yum!
Casual_Cairo is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 07:41 AM
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hills, I don't know how I would get Egyptian food here, that's why I asked. But, it was an unrealistic idea anyway.

I would really love to be able to eat to my heart's content and not have to think about it. When I was younger, we lived in east Africa, and in Turkey - I drank water from the tap in both places, actually everywhere I have visited, and so built up an iron constitution. I do not get stomach illnesses, or rather I did not. Age, and years living in the states has changed that some. Also, I would hate for my kids to get sick and have a wonderful trip ruined, if only for a short time.
Momliz is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 07:52 AM
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Debbie - I think the name of the Thai restaurant is Bua Kao (not sure of spelling) and it is around the corner from Swiss Chalet (another favorite). I sure hope it's still there because it's on our list of places to go when my younger son and I are in Cairo in late October.
Grcxx3 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Bua Kao is still there. It's one of my favorites too. Swiss Chalet isn't what it used to be since Max left, but you know he started his own restaurant back in Digla (I think)... haven't actually made it to his new place yet. I don't leave Heliopolis that much.... but will be trying the juice soon.

Thanks
Casual_Cairo is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:33 PM
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The mango juice is great. Even better, it's sold in my local market here in NYC. Same container, same marketings, shipped direct. Perfect quencher for hot summer days.
sandi is offline  

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