Complete with chimes, Gelato On Wheelz is roaming around as Egypt's first ice cream/gelato truck. We get the inside scoop (get it?) on the roving pink van and find out where it's going to be setting up shop this weekend!
Egypt’s ballooning population leaves many divided; however there is one shared love among Egyptians that goes beyond discriminating against age, sex, or religion. We speak, of course, of Egypt's love for ice cream. You know, I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream and all that. Although this cool treat is a popular favourite all around the world, often served in the back of trucks and creating cherished childhood memories, the ice cream truck never made it to Egypt's streets. Sadsies. But proving that it is better late than never is Gelato On Wheelz, Egypt’s first roaming sweet tooth supplier, that set up shop in compounds across the Sahel coastline all summer, and are now roaming Cairo. They've already landed in Gardenia Park, Lycee Maadi, and City View and this week will be hitting up Fel Park. Excited, we decided to learn more and reached out to Ahmed Hafez, founder of Gelato On Wheelz, to find out where they've been all our lives.
For those who have lived abroad, there is no fonder childhood memory than hearing the ice cream truck's iconic chimes in the faint distant. Upon hearing it, kids would make a mad scramble to get money from parents before the truck would move on. In Egypt, there are many mobile services roaming the street. From the watermelon man to the bikya motorcycle, there is no shortage of people willing to drive to your building to sell you something or provide a service, so why no roaming ice cream until now? According to Hafez, “for some reason, ice cream consumption in Egypt has traditionally been way subpar when compared to the West, despite the very sunny weather we have over here. This trend is starting to change and the appreciation of a good quality ice cream is maturing and it is becoming evident when we consider the number of local ice cream makers that have emerged in the past 5-10 years.”
Aiding the trend are the countless food-inspired TV shows, particularly those focusing on food trucks, which have made them super cool and trendy among foodies. Coupled with the development of gated compounds in Egypt, the time seemed perfect for a food truck to emerge in Egypt; however, the question in Egypt, as always, is how does one obtain the permits to operate a food truck? “In our case, we obtain permits from the compounds' management and this, in most cases, is granted over the phone. Permits to work in the city are more complicated and can take months and is usually limited to a fixed spot,” explains Gelato on Wheelz.
We know we have been using the term ice cream truck, mostly because of our childhood memories, but there is a difference between ice cream and gelato. Explaining that difference, Hafez exclaims, “we are serving Gelato. It is richer in ingredients than ice cream and has less air content. Ice cream is more fluffy.” Regardless of their differences, the important thing here is they both satisfy any sweet tooth and provide a much-needed relief from Egyptian heat. To make sure that his truck is equipped with a variety of flavours, Gelato on Wheelz teamed up with one of Egypt’s first locally made ice cream parlours, Rigolleto. “The feedback has been very positive because of the whole mobile van experience, the chimes, and the quality of the gelato. Scoops are very popular with kids, especially chocolate, vanilla, bubble gum, and caramel with chocolate chip. We also sell the famous vanilla brownie sundaes, as well as sorbets, which are also popular with kids and grown-ups,” describes Hafez.
With Cairo being a sprawling city, it may take ages before you happen to run into this truck, which is always roaming around. But we can tell you that you can catch them this weekend; Friday at Fel Park, and Saturday at SODIC. Beyond roaming the streets, Gelato On Wheelz is available for parties, festivals, and any outdoor events. Hopefully Gelato on Wheelz will expand and usher in a wave of other food trucks Egyptians love, and, as it stands, there is nothing trendier in North America than gourmet food trucks. It stands to reason that if foul carts can serve foul just about anywhere, then food trucks should also be able to provide foodies with trendy treats from the back of truck. That being said, both should be inspected to ensure that their food is clean; however, we doubt that happens with every foul cart, which is why it is so baffling that food trucks aren’t a bigger thing here.