One thing almost every destination in the world shares is an association of food and place. A sudden whiff of epazote or cumin instantly transports me to Mexico and all the memories that go with it. The food of a given country often tells something of the country's history, from ancient trade routes to colonization give and take.
The foods of Egypt have common roots with Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Greece, due to trade across the broad Mediterranean. But sitting down at a table and sharing food made by someone welcoming me to his/her home in a far-away land is not only a meal, it is a view into that person's culture. You'll see how they live each day and the things that are important to them, such as family pictures or an heirloom vase. I've even found that often the utensils used in the creation of a meal elicit curiosity and conversation as much as the ingredients do.
This is why so many Wildland Adventures include cooking classes with locals, often starting with a shopping trip to a local farmers' markets and street stalls… places where the real life of a society occurs. It is why we include dinner with a family in Cairo on our Great Sites of Egypt adventures. The exchange of food, culinary culture, conversation of life in this legendary city, the ups and downs, and raising a family in somewhat tumultuous times (theirs and our own!)… all of these are shared interests and concerns across borders.
Throughout the time we have been offering this cultural exchange, several Wildland families have become close to our Cairo host family, maintaining connections long after returning home. One family even started a recipe exchange with Dina, sharing the foods from her own heritage and region of the US. This is how we are sustained – in more than one definition – how borders are transcended, walls breached, cultures shared, tasted and understood, through breaking bread with one another, and raising a toast to a better, kinder world.