Dish of the week, readers, and it’s been a weird work week for sure. Do you know how time felt in Alice in Wonderland? As if time was stuck on a specific hour and was not moving at the Mad Hatter’s tea party? Well, that’s how we felt, but the funny thing was that even though time was so slow to pass, the week itself went by quite fast. Are you confused? So are we! Time is a confusing concept in itself; you have slow, mundane days, but on the other hand, months and years pass by in the blink of an eye. The moment you don’t think about time, it goes quickly, and the moment you do, it slows down.
Let us tell you how this ties into our weekly special: stuffed pigeon. Some European countries cherish and love pigeons so much and do not comprehend how this bird fits into our traditional cuisine. On the other hand, other countries regard them as “pests”. But the case in Egypt is a bit different; those countries do not have the same species of pigeons we have here, and pigeons here are actually bred for consumption. Also, they do not know that we, Egyptians, love to stuff everything! We stop at nothing, from stuffed vegetables for mahshi to stuffed pickled eggplants and stuffed intestines, AKA mombar. Even though the concept of stuffing pigeons can be pretty peculiar for some foreigners, it is a given within our food culture to have hamam mahshi. Egyptian hamam mahshi, or stuffed squab, has been served for centuries. A squab is a small pigeon loved by many cultures, including the Egyptians. Essentially, the birds were stuffed with freekeh or rice, braised, and then baked in the oven – the process hasn’t changed, but fillings can have a few twists and turns.
So just like the concept of time confuses us sometimes, having stuffed and braised pigeons may seem confusing to others. To put it very simply, our opinions of anything are wildly subjective to a collection of personal experiences and circumstances. If subjective time perception mainly has to do with emotion and attention, then people working in high-stress jobs might be experiencing time differently than people with slow-paced jobs. Just like how, to some people, eating squab is weird; it is actually a subjective opinion based on their circumstances and knowledge of the culture. So what do we take away from all this? Time and opinions can be subjective, so maintaining an observant stance is always much better than having a judgmental one – and if you haven’t tried having hamam mahshi, you definitely ought to. If you want to have mind-blowing hamam mahshi, head over to Farahat in Nasr City, or if you’re feeling a little bougie, Carlo’s makes a killer hamam mahshi!