A farm in the Delta
Early this month, I was lucky enough to visit a farm to the northeast of Cairo, in Qalyubiya province. The area is typical Delta farmland: flat land for miles around, with fields divided into smaller sections by boundary ridges of earth, and crops including cabbages, lettuces, onions, herbs and “berseem” (Egyptian clover) for animal fodder. The farm I visited was given over to fruit trees, particularly groves of plum trees – devoid of leaves in the middle of winter – with guava trees, bitter (“Seville”) oranges, and the odd banana and mango tree. It was fascinating to glimpse irrigation channels full of water and egrets in the groves foraging for worms in the water-soaked earth, and to come across a winter crop of guavas which we normally eat at the height of summer. Finally, a peek inside the village bakery revealed production in full swing: a couple of thousand loaves a day are turned out – loaves, that is, of “baladi” bread, the flat, round unleavened wholemeal bread that Egyptians have eaten since pharaonic times.