Despite what you may have heard, it’s unlikely that you’re going to lose half your bodyweight because of food poisoning or get to drink a beer the entire time you’re in Egypt.
There is quite a variety of food available, but you can be sure that during your travels in Egypt you will eat a lot of bread. Chicken, beef and meze will regularly appear on most menus, as will fish when you’re on the coast.
If you’re on the run you’ll find falafels, sometimes called ta’amiyya, are commonly available and taste delicious. In the bigger cities such as Cairo and Luxor, fast food chains including KFC and McDonald’s are about, but you’ll eat much cheaper if you avoid them.
Try to avoid buying pre-prepared food from street vendors, whose food has often been sitting in the heat for too long. While there’s no guarantee you won’t pick up the odd stomach bug, you should be fine if you stick with food that’s prepared fresh.
Shawarma: BBQ’d lamb, skewered and served in a flatbread
Aish merahrah: Flatbread made with fenugreek seeds and maize flour
Koshari: Pasta or rice with lentils, tomato and fried onions
Mahshi or Dolma: Vine leaves stuffed with rice, herbs, tomato, sometimes with beef mince
Kofta or Kefta: Spiced meatballs (looking more like small sausages than balls) served on a skewer.
While 90% of the population is Islamic there is still plenty of opportunity to have an alcoholic drink. Stella (not the Belgian variety) is the local beer and tastes pretty good. It might be wise to steer clear of the local wine, which could politely be described as basic.
Some restaurants don’t serve alcohol, but many allow BYO and will be willing to point you in the right direction to find a liquor store.
Note – the legal drinking age in Egypt is 21.
Don’t drink water from the tap anywhere in Egypt. Bottled water is available everywhere and is cheap.