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Fayesh: The “King of Crunch” in Upper Egypt

June 14, 2022
Photo via Manaset Matbakhek

Sitting early in the morning in the living room of my grandmother’s house, we can both hear the birds chirping amid a bustling and noisy main street in Cairo. She gets up to prepare tea for us, my favorite shay be laban (tea with milk) — the one only she can perfect — and the crunchy ‘Fayesh’ to delight our morning. This is how I remember being introduced to homemade Egyptian rusks. Al-Fayesh Al-Sa’edy (Fayesh from Upper Egypt) or Fayesh, its more popular and commonly used name, are basically Egyptian rusks. Fayesh literally translates to high or puffy describing what the crunchy dried bread looks like once it’s ready. Originally from Upper Egypt, some sources attribute these yellow-colored rusks to the Governorate of Sohag, while others direct its popularity to the Governorate of Qena. Typically more popular with older generations, Fayesh is characterized by the use of a distinctive baking spice called Mahlab — sesame or chickpeas crushed with sugar and left to brew with boiling milk — which gives the bread a special flavor and fragrance. People often have Fayesh along with tea or tea with milk, some like…

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