It’s been four long weeks since we’ve come back from our amazing little break to Egypt and I’m onto the last phase of Qype’s Word on the Beach competition (have you voted for me?!). We’re supposed to talk about what we brought back from the trip and aside from a couple of gallons of the Red Sea (I blame my snorkel. It had holes in it) I didn’t really bring anything else back. But like, you can vote for me anywayz!

Although, having said that, this portion of the competition is called “return to relaxation”, appropriate given that on my last steamy evening in Egypt, I booked myself in for a massage and honey, I think it was more about what I didn’t bring back because that masseuse of mine? She rubbed my troubles away…

“… I arrive promptly for my 5pm slot and am ready to be playdoughed into oblivion. My masseuse is introduced to me. She’s about four feet tall and two centimeters wide, I shit you not, and I’m wondering if I’m even going to feel a purr. I’m not allowed a camera in the spa, mainly because women of all shapes and sizes and ages are wandering around topless and I’d say all (except for the orange-tanned fake-breasted bottle-blonde stripper girl) would object violently to my taking of photographs.

I’m led into a room which I’m guessing to be about 8 x 12 feet (like LiLo’s cell!) and it’s pitch black save for the strip of light creeping in under the door. Why? I don’t know. Maybe to eliminate the unnecessary sense of sight so that I can better indulge in the senses of touch and smell and sound.

I lay on the table face down, peeping through the “face hole” (really, is there a more elegant way to put this?) and realise that for the first time ever, I won’t spend the duration of the massage analysing the paint job on the legs of the massage table. Music comes on and I start to relax immediately, the tune a hypnotic opera number reminiscent of the Gregorian chant meets Fragma, arguably the best (or at least my favourite) electro-pop girl group of the 90’s.

So it turns out the tiny four foot tall masseuse has hands the strength of Thor. She kneads powerfully and poetically up and down the full length of my body back and front and for the first time in my life, I receive a stomach massage. Note that me rubbing my belly after a hefty meal does not constitute a massage. At first, I’m not 100% sure if I like the stomach massage, the deep kneading feeling much like a rearrangement of my innards. But somewhere between wondering if my lunch would reappear and if perhaps she’d stimulate some bowel movement (sorry guys!) I start to drift off into a dream where I’m in a magical desert land the scent of musky rose and there’s a gorgeous Egyptian Prince who’s ru-… <Ooooooh hold your horses! G-rated blog, yeah? I’ll save that one for later!>

I snap out of the luscious dream as my little masseuse works her way up to my face – my face! another first – and moves her powerful little fingers in perfect circular motions, stimulating my neglected nerves and damn it feels good.

After an hour of blind pampering, I emerge from the spa into the scorching 6pm heat and meander somehow back to my room. I plop myself onto the bed and just lie. And think. And breathe. And live. Ok, now I’m ready to go home…”

Ok so I was going to just write that little rendition of my massage above and pretty much submit that as my final piece but then you would have been left wondering why the heck is there a photo of some courgette looking dish right up the top of this post?

Well. Things are not always as random as they may appear.

Really, as if I’d let a post slip by sans food. Y’all know me better than that. I did honestly think I was coming back from Egypt empty handed but spending two hours rummaging around the one shop in Sharm eh Sheikh Airport with my stray Egyptian pounds proved fruitful. I managed to pick up the cheapest (circa £2.50), nastiest Egyptian cookbook available…

… and voilà! Introducing my Egyptian courgette and chick pea salad, and a tahini hummus (just for good measure), which I served with a lightly seared tuna steak.

ps. the cookbook isn’t actually all that bad. It’s thin and flimsy and probably has food in it that Pharoahs would have never heard of, but there are some interesting recipes like honey and cardamom ice cream which I can’t wait to try! 😀

Courgette and chick pea salad
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 onions, sliced
4 large courgettes (zucchini), sliced into rounds, skin on
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 x 400gram can of chick peas (garbanzos), drained
50 grams black olives, pitted and halved
Juice of 2 lemons
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a wide, heavy pan and sweat (brown) the garlic and onions for a few minutes.
  2. Add the courgettes, cayenne pepper and chick peas. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove lid and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes or until the courgettes are quite soft.
  3. Add olives, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley just before serving.
  4. Can be served warm or at room temperature.
Shared dish.
Tahini hummus
250 grams dried chick peas (garbanzos) or 1 x 400gram can
Juice of 1 lemon
2 gloves garlic, sliced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
Sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of paprika (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley for serving (optional)
  1. For dried chick peas, soak overnight in water to cover, drain and then simmer them for 1-2 hours in fresh water. Salt them lightly, cook for another 15 minutes, then drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. If using canned chick peas (which I did, way easier), drain them and reserve a little of the liquid from the can.
  2. Put the chick peas into a food processor with 2 tablespoons of their cooking water or liquid from the can. Add the lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and tahini and purée to a smooth, soft cream.
  3. Season to taste with salt, then pour into a bowl.
  4. When ready to serve, dribble the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with a little paprika and chopped parsley (optional).
  5. Serve with fresh warm pita bread or raw vegetables.
Serves 4-6 as a dip.

8 Thoughts on “a taste of Egypt: return to relaxation (and some courgettes, chick peas and hummus)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention a taste of Egypt: return to relaxation (and some courgettes, chick peas and hummus) « thecattylife – up close and personal to all things… edible --

  2. i loved reading ““return to relaxation” it made me smile, made me relax and as always your writing cracks me up! i love this recipe here to. i’d say you brought back a lot of great memories with you!

  3. Great post Catty, I feel very relaxed now.

    Lovely recipes too.

    Oh and yes, I did vote 🙂

  4. hehe yes is there another name apart from face hole? I love massages, I think they’re my favourite way to relax! 😀

  5. Yum! The salad sounds delicious and I love hummus! I really want a massage now…

  6. Um, I’m not relaxed, because I just wet my pants. Now I have to mop it up but it was good while I was reading it. Seriously, how are you so funny? You are the master of comic timing in writing.

  7. Meeta: Hehe I’m glad I helped you relax and smile a bit ~ that makes me happy! And yes, both recipes are easy and delicious 🙂

    George: Thank you and I know you did! Am just trying to grab any stray votes left out there and make them my own!

    Lorraine: There is NO other name apart from “face hole”. Although the name “face hole” refers to many things… among them my mouth 🙂

    Maria: Go get one go get one!

    Sasa: LOL! Best comment evererererer 🙂 You’ve made my day xx

  8. Mine did not turn out as well as yours LOL. I must have done something wrong. Time to try again!

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