Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1239, (26 March - 1 April 2015)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1239, (26 March - 1 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

World’s biggest plate of foul

Egypt now officially holds the Guinness World Record for the largest dish of foul, beating the previous record holder, Spain, reports Omneya Yousry

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Horreya Garden in Cairo is becoming the number-one destination for cuisine mega-festivals. After the hugely successful Koshary Festival last January, featuring the popular band CairoKee, the garden hosted another huge food festival last Saturday.

This time, Egyptian foul (beans) was the featured entrée and entertainment was provided by the Wust Al-Balad Band. This simple, modest bean is a staple of the Egyptian breakfast, and it was about time that it was celebrated.

According to the organisers, the motivation for holding the festival wasn’t just about entering the Guinness World Records with the largest-ever dish of foul, although the 100-square-metre plate of foul produced won the new world record. Instead, the idea was to give the dish its true appreciation.

“The festival is the outcome of hard work on the part of 18 Egyptian chefs who have been cooking for three days to make the largest-ever plate of beans,” said chef Alaa Elsherbiny, one of the organisers. “The idea was to introduce the main dish inside every Egyptian home to the world by winning the world record.”

The ingredients included three tons of dried beans, expanding to five tons after they were cooked, along with 300 kg of tomato, 200 kg of onions, 25 kg of spicy peppers, 50 kg of coloured peppers, 50 kg of parsley, 40 kg of tahina (sesame paste) and 5,000 bags of spices.

“We asked for the help of several well-known restaurants, but they refused to take part, especially when they knew we needed three tons of beans. It’s really hard to cook such a huge quantity, but we rose to the challenge. We are delighted with the outcome — everything was ready on time and tasted great,” Elsherbiny said.

“The dish was enough for more than 5,000 people. Resala, the charity involved, took almost ten per cent of the dish and has been distributing beans to 7,500 poor families inside and outside the Cairo governorate,” said Ehab Atef, a member of the student group Enactus at Ain Shams University in Cairo, which organised the logistical side of the event.

The rest of the foul went to festival participants and anything remaining was sent to the Masr Al-Khair association, an NGO, he said.

“Egyptian foul is fantastic. I have just tried it with onions and bread and it’s extremely tasty,” said Guinness World Records adjudicator Pravin Patel. “I think it’s an amazing food, so we should invite the whole world to try it out and Egyptians should promote it more internationally. It’s fantastic to be in Cairo and to see the great restaurants here too.”

Media spokeswomen Omneya Al-Zahar said that Guinness World Records had stipulated various requirements before sending an arbitration team to Cairo to judge the bean dish. “We had to assure them it would weigh more than two tons and meet all the conditions of hygiene to be fit for human consumption. We also had to assure them that it would be donated to the poor and needy,” she said.

The festival was the brainchild of Fine Foods Knorr and was organised as a family-friendly event. Everybody was invited to this once-in-a-lifetime meal and picnic. Inside the Horreya Garden, traditional wooden carts selling foul were placed on the lawns, and volunteers served servings of the foul to festival participants.

The event started at 2 pm and served the largest bean meal in the world to all event attendees. After the opening, some of the city’s most popular restaurants, cafés and bakeries that were participating in the event also offered other kinds of food, some for free, to those attending. Meanwhile, people warmed up to the sound of the Wust Al-Balad Band.

Besides the fun, local brands and designers set up a bazaar. Exhibitors of handcrafts, silverwork and various types of accessories were also there, providing a rich variety of souvenirs to remind people of this exceptional day.

“This is more organised than the Koshari Festival. The foul was done properly and on time, the Guinness adjudicators were out there and all the procedures went smoothly,” said Esraa Youssef, one of the festival participants.

However, some attendees balked at the entry ticket of LE40. “There isn’t enough variety, and it’s boring to have to wait until 7:30 pm for the Wust Al-Balad concert to begin,” said Ahmed Magdy. Yasmine Farag agreed and said there were not enough activities to amuse those attending.

The festival is the latest in an increasing number of food-based festivals in Egypt and the second attempt at breaking a world record for the largest food serving.

Who knows what will be next? The biggest single ta’ameya in the world? The world’s biggest hawawshi? We will have to wait and see what the next attempt to break a Guinness World Record will be.

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