CAIRO: Unofficial street carts serving foul have become the suhoor ‘restaurant’ of choice for thousands of Egyptians in recent Ramadans. These carts seem to be on every corner of Egyptian city streets, serving oriental suhoor from midnight until fajr prayer — around 3:00 a.m. local time.
Though street food is popular in Egypt throughout the year, the whole foul cart experience is appealing to Egyptians for different reasons, adding a special touch to the holy month’s social gatherings.
Some guests do express concerns regarding the carts’ health standards, as most of do not have an official operating permit. But Yousef, one of the vendors, stressed they do their best to maintain the cleanliness of their utensils, preserve the food properly and have it served fresh.
We visited “El-Sohba” (‘The Friends’), a foul cart run by a group of six college friends who’ve just finished their exams.
Like most, they offer an oriental breakfast menu. This one includes fava beans mixed with olive oil, butter or tahini. Eggs are served plain, with cheese or mixed with pastrami — a local favorite. Also on offer are falafel, cheese, fries and salads, alongside soft drinks.
Mostafa, a member of the group, told Arab News the six friends wanted this to be their project for the summer.
“Every year, we have suhoor at a foul cart belonging to some of the people we know,” he said. “We liked the idea and kept saying we wanted to have one of our own. This year we decided to go ahead with it.”
The friends believe customers enjoy suhoor at a foul cart because the ambiance adds to the Ramadan spirit. “It’s not just the food; it’s the lighting, the seating arrangement, and the good company,” Mostafa said.
Almost every foul cart provides a few plastic tables and chairs. If there’s some greenery in the area, they sometimes put out traditional poufs and round wooden tables, giving it a picnic-like atmosphere. The carts run their electric from nearby street poles and hang a few decorative lights.
Saif, one of the cart owners, tells Arab News that by the time they’ve served suhoor for everyone, he and his friends sometimes don’t get the chance to actually eat themselves, despite developing a way to serve the food as quickly as possible to those rushing to eat their pre-dawn meal in time
“Some do get angered if the food (takes a long time), but I believe we handle everyone quite well,” Saif said.