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Koshary as an artwork?

One man's vision

| Written by subarlox

Wed, 10/21/2009 - 14:19

The writer, Subar Lox, is a Grade 4 lover of koshary. That is only one grade shy of attempting to mate with the dish. Here, he shares his views on koshary as an artwork.

I often wonder about the relation between koshary and art. "Ridiculous," people always respond to the idea. But is it?  I was pondering that same notion after my latest excursion to see an art exhibition. The dark clouds looming over my head lifted slightly as I walked towards my vehicle to make the long trek home and saw the mouth-watering word "koshary" on the window pane of a humble venue. I popped in for a bite. And as I chewed on the beautiful mess of boiled carbohydrates, I contemplated the art I had just seen at the exhibition. As the clouds began to descend once more, a curious (and perhaps not so novel) thought occurred to me. What of this question in the title, what of considering Koshary (with a capital K) as art?

For many, koshary is a meal. It gets the job done; one is hungry, one eats koshary, one is no longer hungry. It is an efficient, economic solution to a problem we combat everyday, and many could write a whole treatise on the ways in which it plays such crucial role in society. But what if we removed it from it's function as a cog in the mechanism that is our daily life and re-framed it as Art.

A steaming bowl of koshary is certainly a treat for the senses. The wafting scents of all the ingredients, with subtle peaks of garlic, onion and undertones of tomato. The stunning visuals of the plainer, more mundane whites and yellows brought into contrast with the dark of the brown lentils. The pile of golden onions sitting atop a flow of lava red tomato sauce. And then to lift a spoon full of Koshary to one's mouth and for it's warmth to touch one's lips, to feel the heat that seeps through the bowl in one's hands. It's almost audacious.

It doesn't stop there either. All this is commonly contextualized by the shiny silver and aluminum furnishings and surroundings. The bowl, the silverware, the cups, the da2a, the pitcher. The neutrality and coldness of the metal serves only to highlight the delight in which a customer partakes in. And one must not neglect the aural experience. What with the bangs and clangs of empty metal plates and dishes, the thud of a full dish hitting the table in front of you, the buzz of conversation, punctuated by a burst of laughter or the beep from an impatient car outside, it leaves little more to be desired.

Surely, many will have noted that it would seem I have my initial premise backwards. Maybe instead of attempting to elevate Koshary to the realm of art, it is Art that needs to be elevated. But then again, perhaps I am asking too much of art to be compared to something so overwhelmingly satiating as a bowl of Koshary. After all what could possibly have such a heavy impact and long lasting effects and at the same time cost so little? Hmmm... sniffing glue, maybe?

Since the time of writing, Subar Lox has been spotted running naked in the Citadel covered in tomato sauce and bits of pasta, leaving a trail of rice and lentils in his wake.


Thu, 10/22/2009 - 17:29

The beauty of both art and koshary is that there's no such thing as "bad" art or "bad" koshary. If one looks at a particularly aesthetically unpleasing piece of art and says, "Damn, that blows", there will always be someone to look at you condescendingly and deem you a philistine.

Same goes for koshary. If you express that you don't like it for whatever reason, there will always be someone to rebuff you and defend it as if it was his own mother - "eih ya 3am eli enta bet2oulo dah, enta bas mabtefhamsh."

So even when art and koshary IS bad, it's never BAD. To think so makes you ignorant, or just downright crazy.


Thu, 10/29/2009 - 21:28

It may never be BAD, but I think you would agree that there is koshary and then there's Koshary (capital K). Something about Koshary hits one at a deeper level than koshary. There is koshary that is eaten, consumed and not talked about, not remembered, not desired - and then there is Koshary - the kind that moves you to tell those closest to you about the experience, what it tasted like, how it made you feel and what memories it gave rise to.

From the Egyptian Diaspora

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 01:28

I really enjoyed this. :D Keep it up!


Sat, 05/21/2011 - 11:47

wanna eat Koshary nowwwwww
in this cute humble venue

Anonymous EU

Wed, 07/06/2011 - 18:17



i had a dream there were no koshary places in europe...oh wait, that's not a dream.

Arzak, habibi, help me....

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