I promised you several stories written by Matt. Here's the first of many for you to enjoy:
Last week our family decided we were in the mood for pork. Dinners here are more of an event than in the states. Don’t ask me why. It just seems that everything takes more time and energy. On the pork we decided that hotdogs would be a quick and easy dinner and honestly it has been so long since any of us has eaten pork, the idea of an old fashioned hotdog sounded wonderful. Beef hotdogs are plentiful here but they do not even share a slight resemblance to Oscar Meyer and Armor.
While pork is scarce in Egypt we are fortunate to live a 1/3 of a mile from a pork store. Because the kids had been stuck inside all day we decided to make the trip to the store a family affair, so we all got ready and headed out the door. Anyone that has little ones knows that half a mile is like six or seven miles when your legs are only 12 inches long. However, after nearly an hour journey we were back at home to throw the dogs on the grill.
Lighting a grill here is a bit different. The first several attempts were disastrous to say the least. The charcoal is not exactly “Matchlight” quality. Honestly, it just looks like burnt wood. After spending several days trying to hunt down lighter fluid, I had resorted to using any flammable liquid I could find lying around, including some of Stacey’s beauty products. After raiding the medicine cabinet I discovered that the alcohol seemed to burn the way you would expect and so I was off to the store to buy alcohol. Because alcohol is only sold in small quantities I was forced to buy out the store in order to come up with what I presumed would be a sufficient supply for lighting my charcoal. Long story short, ten bottles of alcohol, an electric fan, and 2 hours is what had been required in the past to light a fire.
This time I had a better plan. Having noticed that the corn venders (men who barbeque corn on the street below our apartment) always seemed to have an ample supply of well lit coal, we got the bright idea to ask how they managed to light their charcoal. It turns out that they lay their coal on the eye of a stove (everyone here uses gas) and when the coal is ready they transport the coal to the grill. I was now ready to try the Egyptian way of lighting charcoal. Using the kitchen stove, it only took about 30 minutes to light an ample amount of charcoal to cook. I was then ready to cook.
It was at this time that I did what most people do when cooking hotdogs, I thought about the buns. I knew we didn’t have hotdog buns but loaf bread will always do in a pinch. Unfortunately when I checked the bread it was molded. This was not a disaster however because the grill I purchased here only allows the grate of the grill to get very close to the charcoal so the cooking time for hotdogs turned out to be about 45 minutes. Stacey simply gave Meredith some money and sent her to a small store around the corner from our apartment.
When Meredith returned with a package of buns I was taking the hotdogs off the grill. It was then that we learned two things. Pork hotdogs sold in Egypt are very large and hotdog buns sold in Egypt are very small. Let’s put it this way. If you break the hotdog in half there is still some hanging out of both ends of the bread and there is no way that bun is actually going to squeeze together around the hotdog like on a commercial or on the picture on the hotdog bun wrapper. No problem, the eating was a bit messier, but it all goes to the same place- right?
When supper was over we cleaned up. We had used paper plates to expedite our quick and easy supper, and after cleaning the charcoal off the stove and the floor of the kitchen the process of cooking hotdogs in Egypt from beginning to end only took 4 hours. After supper, we had just enough energy to brush the kids’ teeth, pray with them, and then tell them not to dare get out of their beds until morning before we retreated to the couch to begin resting up for the next day.