Monday, June 28, 2010


Now that I am visiting the US, I have time to blog about Cairo. It is kind of a funny thing how living in Cairo can get in the way of blogging about Cairo.

In this case, about beer, actually.

In Cairo, you can order via telephone or internet almost anything for delivery and it is remarkably efficient. More so than anyplace I have been. If we want beer, we call a place called “Drinkie’s” (no I am not making this up or changing the names) and they deliver within 45 minutes for no extra charge. And you can request it cold. Also for no extra charge.

Other than Heineken, you have two Egyptian beer options—Stella (not the be confused with its Belgian namesake) and Saqqara. Both are lagers that I, as someone who does not drink very much, find quite satisfactory. Sometime last year, however, we found out about an Egyptian label called Luxor that has a hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer, that is quite delicious.

A few months back, when I telephoned Drinkie’s for beer, I asked if they had Luxor. They said no, so I ordered Stella. Transaction done. A few minutes later, I got a telephone call.

Me: “Hello.”

Caller X: “Hello. Do you need beer?”

Me: [long pause] “No? Thank you.”

Caller X: “OK.”

End of conversation. Me left scratching my head.

My Stella order arrived shortly thereafter.

It took me a few minutes to figure out what probably happened. When I called and asked for Luxor, the dispatcher passed along my telephone number to someone else who does sell it. It is a beautiful example of the way that informal economic networks still infiltrate this highly efficient system.

More recently, the place we ordered Luxor from was closed (closed down, we later learned). We were desperately (ok—that is a dramatic overstatement) seeking Luxor, so the idea hit me. Why not call Drinkie’s again and ask for Luxor, and when they say they don’t have it, hang up and wait for the call from some mysterious beer distributor? I actually thought about doing it, but it seemed a bit too strange...though it might have made for a much better blog entry.

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