4.5 Culture: Egyptian food

In this section

  • You will watch a video and reflect on the popular dishes in Egypt and other countries.
  • You will learn some culture notes about ordering in a restaurant in Egypt then test yourself on these expressions.

Warm-up: Watch this video about street food in Cairo. Engage in a discussion with your classmates about the popular dishes in Egypt, US, and different countries around the world.



Culture notes

As you learned in the previous section, there are a variety of ways to order foods or drinks in a restaurant/café.

  • ممكن which literally means ‘possible’ can be used to begin a request as in ممكن مَيّة لو سمحت, which translates to something like ‘May I have water please?’
  • The phrase لوسمحتي / لو سمحت is used interchangeably or along with من فضْلِك /من فَضْلَك in the beginning or end of the request.
  • The word واحد is used to refer to an item of service and it is used for both a masculine item and a demine item such as واحد رز which means ‘one rice,’ which is masculine, and واحد سلطة خضرا which means ‘one green salad,’ which is feminine.
  • The phrase هات لي /هاتي لي is most frequently used in the restaurant setting.
  • عايز/عايزة can also be used in requesting food/drink, and usually combined with لو سمحت/ لو سمحتي
  • Respect address forms and honoring phrases are expected from service providers towards customers. Examples include تحت أمرك and أي خدمة  .
  • The word حاجة, which literally means ‘a need’ is frequently used in Egyptian Arabic in different contexts to mean ‘something’ or ‘a thing’ as in عايز حاجة؟ and كُلّ حاجة  .
  • يا فندم is an address form borrowed from Turkish ‘efindim,’ and it is used in Egypt as an address form meaning ‘sir/madam’ to show respect for people whom we do not know well. It is usually heard in service encounters and it is used for both males and females.

Test yourself

Activity (14): Check the right expressions in each of the following situations.


Key Takeaways

  • You can now order food and drink in Arabic. Find a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant and practice some of the expressions you learned.


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Elementary Arabic II Copyright © 2021 by Ayman Mohamed and Sadam Issa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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