CAIRO: Usama Ghazali is a young environmental researcher who focuses on Red Sea nature reserves. He has a passion for Egyptian culture and heritage as well as handcrafts which are threatened by extinction.
Ghazali decided to collect signature dishes and drinks from each governorate through his many travels around Egypt. He then shared a map marking over 100 assortments of foods from various locations in Egypt on his Facebook page.
Among the most prominent are madoos, mafroka and aseeda. His project brought certain dishes into the spotlight, as some were not known in the capital, Cairo, despite being staple foods in other parts of the country.
Ghazali travels monthly, each month checking out a new place in Egypt where he discovers more about the heritage of the area.
“There are various kinds of foods that are found in more than one place, but their names differ from one place to another,” Ghazali said. “Among them is al-mudaydah which is known to the people of Upper Egypt but is also present in Nuba under the name al-mudayd.”
Ghazali referred to his idea as an individual effort except for the details which requires the cooperation of research institutions on heritage for scientific documentation.
He sees his work as significant in order to record and preserve Egyptian culture and as an invite to start a cultural awareness campaign where he is not the only one involved. Prior to this most recent work, Ghazali drew up a plan to advertise traditional handmade crafts.
“During the past months, I opened a temporary museum for folklore and craftsmanship,” he said.
The museum showcases works from Siwa, Sinai, Shalateen, Nubia, Upper Egypt, the countryside and oases. It is divided into four parts covering 250 meters. In its first part he shares the history of weaving and its evolvement in these areas. The second is dedicated to pottery, the third to copper art and the fourth to palm fronds. The museum features identification boards for each of the pieces shown to help walk the visitor through the history of these products and their usage in different parts of Egypt.
Ghazali also included 16 pieces of women’s wear that have resisted the wave of globalization and modernization which have hit Cairo. He labeled this part the “Map of Heritage Clothing in Egypt Still in Use.”
He included pieces which are only used in certain areas in Egypt and others which are only worn during special occasions.