A Timely Interview With The App Whisperer

Ibrahim and the Shipwreck in Nabq, South Sinai

I arrived in Dahab, South Sinai last night to find that an interview had been published about my street photography, with a large emphasis on Egypt and the Middle East.

You can read the article on The App Whisperer website, which is one of the leading providers of all mobile app news. It specialises in mobile photography and mobile art, particularly iPhoneography.

My good friend Cara Gellardo Weil contacted me about it a few weeks ago, and I was so happy to be given the opportunity to be featured. I've read many interviews with photographers I admire from afar, so it's a real honour to be included.

But more than that, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Syria (where my late mother was born and raised) and Egypt (where I have been based for almost three years) are going through extremely turbulent times, so anything I can do to highlight the beauty of these countries and their people means a lot to me.

I've enjoyed my photographic journey of South Sinai. While I'm back here I intend to carry on documenting the amazing people and breathtaking scenery I come across on a daily basis. Please subscribe to my blog (top right of this page) to get email updates as soon as I add new content, and keep Egypt and Syria in your prayers. I hope a few of you decide to visit Dahab soon.

To buy a book of my late mother Hayfa's delicious Syrian recipes put together by my sister Jenny Sowerby, please visit the Taste of Freedom website. All proceeds go to the British Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal.

If you're like to find out more about how you can help a Bedouin kindergarten school here in Dahab that's very close to my heart, please apply to join the Facebook group.

 

Bedouin Bread, Good Olive Oil and Za'atar.

Bedouin bread, olive oil and za'atar

After a day at Lagoona Beach in Dahab, a friend and I were invited for tea at a Bedouin home. I've known the family for a couple of years now, and they're fantastic. Always so hospitable, generous and welcoming.

As soon as we arrived we were offered tea, then perspired gently by the fire in the 40 degree heat chatting about what we'd all been up to in our broken Arabic and English. Somehow we always manage to communicate despite the language barrier.

After that the woman started to make Bedouin bread, a simple mix of wholemeal flour, water and salt cooked in two ways. One variety is very thin and flat (like a large wrap or tortilla), cooked over a special black heated dome, and the other is a thicker version, almost like a pizza base, cooked in the ground in the ashes of the fire. 

While my friend Annemarie did most of the breadmaking duties as she wanted to learn the techniques involved, the kids proudly showed me around their garden. It was bursting with lemon, guava and fig trees, herbs, and plants. Freshly washed colourful blankets were drying in the boughs of the trees, and the washing line had fish (they also often catch octopus) drying in the sun ready for the next meal.

Once the bread was ready, we all sat in a circle and ate it with organic South Sinai olive oil and za'atar (supplied from Palestine by another friend, Mary). Za'atar is a wonderful mix of toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, sumac and sea salt and it's very popular in the Middle East although oddly not widely available here in Egypt. The bread was broken into chunks, and we dipped each piece into the oil first and then the za'atar.

If you're looking for inspiration for your next dinner party or barbecue, you should really try this delicious combination out. There are ways and means of making the bread using a more western style kitchen or garden as it's quick and easy. The key is to be creative with the equipment you have.

I'll write a separate post with a Bedouin bread recipe, but for now I'll leave you to salivate a little... ;-)

 

 

Cake And Coffee Heaven at Chez Karim

Karim holding his chocolate and coconut cake

I'm a regular visitor to Marine Garden Camp in Dahab, and while I'm there I often visit Karim and his dog, Action, at the Chez Karim coffee shop next door.

Why? Obviously to catch up on our news. He also makes the best fresh coffee this side of Italy, and almost every day he bakes a new cake and loves to experiment with different recipes, flavours and textures. From chocolate and coconut to peanut butter and banana, cheese and spinach to sweet potato and carrot, no stone, vegetable or combination is left unturned in his quest to find the perfect mix.

I'm pretty lucky, as in return for taking the odd snap for him, I get to sample his creations for free! Karim also makes some delicious fresh juices and milkshakes, mango, strawberry and banana being my particular favourite.

 

Getting Juicy With Freshly Squeezed Pomegranates

man squeezing pomegranates

Last night my friend Tracey and I paid a visit to Asalah, which is the main hub of fruit shops, supermarkets, home and electrical stores plus all manner of little places to eat and drink in Dahab. It's such a lively place and I love going there at least once a week for a mooch. We were there on an evening visit to the vet, but that's a whole different story I will regale you with another time.

After dropping off the cat (with feelings of incredible guilt - yes you've guessed the operation it was about to have), we decided to grab some pomegranate juice, and I took a few shots to show you how amazing this stuff is. Egyptian pomegranates are so succulent, sweet and reasonably priced that you could eat a couple a day and I often have it in my morning porridge with a little black seed honey and some almonds. Great for your immune system!

If you ever visit Dahab, make sure you try this juice, or another firm favourite here - a freshly pressed sugar cane drink, with lime to cut the sweetness. Delicious and so refreshing in the sweltering summer!

pomegranates cut in half

two glasses of pomegranate juice

How To Catch And Kill An Octopus

Girls and octopus

Well my resolution to upload a picture a day hasn't gone too well, mainly due to a hectic schedule over the past few days! Must try harder and I will... ;-)

Yesterday I had an amazing Bedouin breakfast at the home of a lovely family I'm friends with, and then we went to the beach to enjoy some winter sunshine.

The two girls pictured here caught an octopus. In case you don't know, they're picked up with a stick from the sea, speared through the head and then bashed hard against a rock around 40 to 70 times to tenderise them ready for cooking and eating.

Today I went back to the house for lunch. Octopus cooked with rice, onion, and tomato, served with fresh salad from their garden of bounty. A true delicacy and highly addictive! If you've never tried it, don't be put off by the tentacles... 

Seafood Delight at Castle Zaman

seafood at Castle Zaman

I've been working from home today, building a website for the Sheikh Ali Resort in Dahab, South Sinai.

One of their pages is about a place called Castle Zaman in Nuweiba, or perhaps I should call it a paradise. Editing my shots made me crave one of their seafood platters! As you can see it's not exactly your average fish and chip dinner. The castle also has a pool, sauna and a view of the Red Sea and surrounding mountains that is hard to beat.

If you're in the area on holiday please make sure you pay both Castle Zaman and the Sheikh Ali Resort a visit, as both are beautifully decadent in a very simple way.