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He had one of the most unpleasant experiences of his life in one of the most magical cities in the world. As my grandfather arrived in Cairo for a three-day visit to see the glorious pyramids in 1964, dusk was already approaching. The courtyard he saw from his hotel room on the 8th floor in Tahrir Square came to life as various food stalls assembled, and across the Nile, numerous dots of light decorated the area that was being used for an exhibition/flea market.

The city beckoned him and he obeyed.

A quick decent and he arrived in the courtyard at the foot of the hotel. He recalls being dismayed with the dirty state of the place; tourists and other visitors had simply thrown their leftovers onto the floor, possibly expecting the Egyptian gods to miraculously clean up the streets.

My grandfather then decided to visit the exhibition on the other side of River Nile and lost track of time in the bustle of the bazaar. It was midnight when he returned to his side of the river and, realizing he was starving, ordered a quick burger from one of the food venders.

He went back up to his room and snuggled into the bed, looking forward to relaxing before meeting the Pyramids the following day. However, sleep had not been ordained for him because the burger turned out to be gastronomically lethal.

Several trips to the bathroom drained all his energy; when room service arrived, my grandfather was unable to get up and open the door. The hotel manager, who promptly arrived, gave him a small glass of whiskey (I have no idea why) and after failing to get his hands on a doctor, gave my grandfather a cup of Lemon Tea, and a tradition in our family was born:

1 cup boiled water
1 teabag
2 teaspoons sugar (we like it sweet, but it works without sugar too)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.

It worked like a dream, and my grandfather slept like a baby for several hours. A second cup of Lemon Tea restored his health enough to be able to tell the manager to reschedule his flight so he could head home as soon as possible.

He had no regret (at the time) about not being able to see those famous mystical structures so you can imagine the height of his relief!

To this day, whenever someone in our family has tummy problems, we know we can depend on this time-tested recipe. Come to think of it, although my grandfather’s experience in Cairo was unpleasant, that city still worked its magic one way or the other.


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