Is there anything David Blanks loves more than good food? Find out in the sweetest article ever written on CairoScene...
People often ask me, “What is your favorite restaurant?” There are a few I like a lot, but it is difficult to give a definitive answer because different restaurants are great at doing different things. Better questions would be, “Who makes your favorite risotto?” or “Who serves the best hamburger?” (Piccolo Mondo, Mince Burger).
But I do know, precisely, the best meal I ever had in Cairo. It was last Wednesday. At Le Deck.
I love this place. Always have. Great service, great setting. I go in the late afternoon and order fatoush, taboula, tahina, baba ganoush, and then the mixed grill, which comes to your table on its own little charcoal brazier. As the sun sets on the river and the weather cools, there is nothing better or more romantic in this city.
The reason this particular lunch was so special was that my gorgeous hippie princess and I had just come from the Ministry of Justice where we signed the papers attesting to the fact that we can now play house for real. The actual wedding isn’t for another couple of months, but it’s still pretty cool: now we have this really epic friendship that is recognised by the police.
That’s what makes the kofta and kebab taste good: simple, fresh food with your soul mate.
Plus Le Deck holds memories for us. Here was where we had one of our first dates—and it was here that we had lunch with her parents on the day they agreed to our sharing all our meals together, forever. For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, savoury or sweet, dine in or takeaway, from that day forward Cairo restaurants played a special part in our romance.
We met at Cairo Jazz Club, by chance, which is scary when you think about it too much. And it was at Cairo Jazz Club that I proposed to Sarah. Some of you were there that day. In the middle of a live set I got on stage, got a hold of the microphone, and asked her to marry me in front of 200 tipsy patrons while Screwdriver jammed to Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved?
She was speechless, which was a bit problematic. To resolve the suspense, the singer, Shehab, grabbed the mic from her hand and yelled, “She said yes!” The crowd went wild and there was no going back. (Sorry about that babe, if you want to change your mind, you know, if you have a different answer or something, ummm, hmmm, okay, sorry about that too).
Our first date was at Aperitivo. It was also the night of our first kiss. We spent our first Valentine’s Day at the Osmanly Restaurant at the Kempinski; we met her extended family for the first time at the Helnan Auberge in Fayoum; and we celebrated our first anniversary on New Year’s Eve at the Clubhouse in El Gouna dancing in the sand to Tito’s retro Funk House.
It has been a culinary romance. At breakfast we held hands and talked about our stormy pasts; at lunch we hugged each other and discussed the future; by dinner we could look into each other’s eyes, know what the other was thinking, and not have to say anything at all. Don’t give up, it really can happen, love at first bite.
We got to know each other at supper clubs, chefs’ tables, menu tastings and restaurant openings. Who needs a wedding photographer? Our entire relationship is documented on CairoZoom. For that matter, who needs a wedding video? We’re appearing in a new reality show and all of this is going to be televised, including last Wednesday’s lunch at Le Deck.
Over time we covered the entire gastro-geography of Greater Cairo, eating our way through the city, meeting new friends, tasting new dishes, avoiding past romantic entanglements like so many run-ins with e-coli.
On occasion, I cooked. This, guys, was how I won her over. She told me at the very beginning of our relationship, “When I was in college I had a list of 20 criteria that I needed from a man if I was to marry him, now it is down to one.”
Ignoring the obvious, I imagined that what she meant was that it was important for her to be with someone to whom she was physically attracted. As it turns out what she really wanted to know was whether I was any good in the kitchen.
Somewhere along the line she too turned into a foodie. The first time she took me out was to a Bobby Chinn event at Saigon (at least the love was new and interesting). And since then, well, she’s won me over in every possible way. Her first gift to me was what she described as a “really freaking expensive heavy orange pan,” it was Le Creuset, OMG; her most recent, a perfect grilled lunch last week on the river.
I love you too, baby. I love you beyond. You will always be my hippie princess, bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.