Summer and Soccer

I was never a summer or a sports nut until Ali introduced me to the FIFA World Cup many years ago. Now I anxiously wait for every fourth summer because I know it will bring the World Cup games. My addiction is so serious that not only will I not miss a game for anything, I will plan the whole day around the games schedule! My family is convinced that something rewires in my brain during the World Cup as it's the only time when screaming at the television, talking to the people on it, and jumping in frustration are the norm for me. During the last World Cup, I was visiting my aunt in Texas. The games began at 3 a.m. in Texas, and my aunt was absolutely convinced that I had lost my mind to wake up at that hour for a soccer match. I, on the other hand, could not imagine missing a single one even if it meant waking up in the middle of the night and biting a pillow to prevent myself from screaming at the television. I love soccer and adore the World Cup!

Soccer is the ideal sport for people who don't usually enjoy them. Whereas baseball and football games can drag on for hours, soccer players have exactly 90 minutes to collect points for their teams. Because they have to score points in a set period of time, the game is incredibly fast-paced which increases the excitement factor exponentially. There is no time for hotdogs during a soccer match! "Look, ma, no hands!" makes soccer a difficult game to play and a joy to watch. It's not easy to maintain control of a ball without using hands to hang onto it, and just imagine how much harder it is to score points with a foot, head, knee, or chest!

Soccer is a world sport like no other. While baseball and football, the great American pasttimes, are much beloved in the US, they hold very little interest elsewhere in the world. But go to Mexico, Korea, England, Argentina, France, Brazil, Germany, the Ukraine, Egypt, Greece, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, or any other country on any continent, and you will find local soccer clubs and a national soccer team. Fans of the game know the best players in the world, and it doesn't matter which country they come from -- they are admired for their skill. Soccer stars such as Pele, Beckham, Zidane, Maradona and Ronaldo receive global adoration because they play the game so well not because they are nationals of a particular country.

There's still time to tune into soccer. The World Cup matches are not over yet; they are just getting ready to move into the quarter finals. Check out the FIFA World Cup page for game schedules and watch one! I promise you won't be sorry.

Egyptian Food and a Hookah Party

This weekend we went to a graduation party for a friend's son. The party was made up mostly of Egyptians and fabulous food, both of which reminded me of what makes a great hookah party. If you've never had Egyptian food, you don't know what you're missing! So, to help you have an authentic hookah party this summer, I'm going to share some authentic Egyptian recipes with you.

Egyptian Pita Bread – 6 pieces

Bread is a mainstay of every Egyptian meal. It is seldom eaten on its own and more often torn into small, bite-sized pieces and used as a scoop to hold a tasty morsel of something else.

**Note: You may use wheat flour instead of white for this recipe if you prefer.**


2 tsp dry yeast
1 c warm water
1 tsp salt
3 c flour (not the self-rising kind!)


1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water and set aside.
2. Sift together flour and salt.
3. Add yeast and water to the flour and salt mixture until it forms a soft dough.
4. Knead the dough until it has a slightly elastic texture.
5. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place for 3 hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
7. Divide the dough into six equal parts and roll into balls.
8. Flatten each ball into a 5-inch circle that is about ½-inch thick. You can do this with your hand or a rolling pin, whichever way you are most comfortable with. I use my hands because I prefer to do things the old-fashioned way.
9. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until a light golden brown.


This has to be my very favorite Egyptian dish of all time and one that is very popular with people who are unaccustomed to eating Egytian food. Babaghanouj is a dip eaten with the pita bread. This recipe makes enough to serve 10-15 people as an appetizer.


3 medium sized eggplants
1 medium sized onion
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp white vinegar
½ c tahina (tahini)
1 tsp ground cumin
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Roast the eggplants and onion, in their skins, over an open flame. This can be done on your stovetop. Be sure to cover the area with aluminum foil first, because the eggplant will ooze and make a bit of a mess. When one side begins to ooze, turn the eggplant over. The entire process will take approximately 15-20 minutes.
2. Place hot, roasted eggplants and onion in a plastic bag that you can seal. I use a plastic grocery bag, but a Ziploc baggie will work equally well. Let them sit in the bag for about 30 minutes until they are warm yet cool enough to handle.
3. Remove the eggplants and onion from the plastic bag and peel. Keeping them in the plastic bag does something magical to them that makes peeling really easy!
4. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.
5. Taste. The roasted flavor of the eggplant should be the dominant taste, but it should also have a bit of a zing from the lemon. Add lemon juice, one teaspoon at a time, to desired level of zing.

Pour onto a platter and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle chopped parsley around the edges and drizzle olive oil very lightly over the top. Serve with pita bread.

This bread and dip recipe will get you started, but I have several more to come. Heck, if you wanted to, you could serve an entire meal of nothing but Egyptian food to go with your Egyptian hookah!

Bon apetit, as Julia Child used to say!