Our collection of Marriott hotels span the globe in over 60 countries, each a unique destination providing business and leisure travelers experiences designed to inspire and explore. Some cities have recent history, some of old history, but it is fair to say that none have the ancient history of Cairo. Filled with history of the early...and the traffic of the modern. For thousands of years the Nile has flowed majestically past this cradle of civilization, bringing with it trade, war, and water for crops. In fact, the first crops grown were grains, meant to provide sustaining bread for the subjects of ancient pharaohs. Better to build pyramids when the workers have been fed.
I hadn't thought of all this history when I first saw the Cairo Marriott in 2001, just that this was an amazing place. Now back for the first time since that first visit, I marvel at the beauty of this palace. This majestic hotel, a museum of a property anchored by the 1869 Palace Gizera, boasts 12 destination quality restaurants and a garden oasis in the middle of this bustling city. Centered in that garden is the outdoor venue Egyptian Nights, where guests relax, dine, and converse under the desert sky. Anchoring that beautiful space is a simple stone oven, championed by two amazing ladies making bread. Watching them make this simple bread is like witnessing thousands of years of history unfolding into one simple constant, that of baking bread to feed the hungry masses of the Nile Delta.
Every day, these two make as many as 1,000 loaves of this puffed, pita-like bread. A slurry of ground semolina, flour and yeast is fermented into a very loose dough. The recipe is written, but what cannot be written is the years of experience that these ladies have. Some things have to be learned over years of practice. When the dough is right, they scoop it up into individual portions and drop it onto a semolina coated disk, about 6 feet wide. Carefully one coaxes the dough into shallow disks, then rotates the ready to bake dough to the master baker, who slides it onto a short paddle to be dropped directly onto the hot oben floor. There, the intense heat seals the crust.
45 seconds later, the trapped air inside expands, puffing the bread into 3 times it's original size. She immediately pierces the crust to prevent the bread from splitting, then gently moves it around the oven to finish baking. This whole process of baking takes 2 1/2 minutes, but thousands of years of history.
The bread is the star of this show, and the menu is built to support it's star. From spectacular mezze of tabbouleh, babaghanoush, muhamara, and kibbe to kofta, shewarma of chicken or beef and foul, a bean stew considered an Egyptian staple. If food offers a sense of place for the traveler, the experience at Egyptian Nights offers the ultimate taste of Egypt. Come to Cairo for the Pyramids, the Nile, and King Tut, but don't miss the bread at Egyptian Nights.