Thursday, May 29, 2008

Eating Apricot Kernel in Egypt

Here in Egypt when we want to refer to something that will never happen we say "fel meshmesh". This Egyptian saying in Arabic means "when the apricot season comes". Meshmesh (مشمش) is the Arabic word for Apricot. The season for apricot in Egypt is so brief that as soon as it starts it comes quickly to an end. The brevity of the apricot season in Egypt is what led to this common Egyptian saying.

Apricot is a common fruit in Egypt. Many people call their cats "meshmesh" specially if their fur color is close to that of apricot. In the English language, orange is a color and is taken from the name of the fruit with the same name. In Egypt, we use the word "meshmeshi" to refer to anything that has a color similar to that of apricots. A testimony to the popularity of apricots as a fruit in Egypt.

Egyptians do not only eat the apricot fruit, but traditionally we also break the seed coat of the apricot and eat the kernel inside. Traditionally, we take the kernel out and grind it till it's powder, or a bit course grained, then add other ingredients to it such as dried coriander and salt. We grind all this together and mix it perhaps after some roasting in a pan with no additives. The resulting mix is called dokka (دقة). It can be eaten with bread at breakfast or dinner.

The apricot kernel can also be eaten without grinding right after breaking the protective seed coat from around it. It would taste a bit bitter yet has a pleasant taste to it at the end. It is also said to have great health benefits and has even been claimed, yet not officially proven, to have cancer preventing or even cancer curing effects.

Apricot kernel can also be roasted in a pan with or without oil and then used instead of almonds either for direct consumption or in preparing foods that otherwise use almonds.