At the time, I thought I would experience immense culture shock when I arrived. While customs and daily life in Egypt are far removed from American ways, there are certain aspects of Cairo that made me feel like I was back in the States more-so than I felt during my entire stay in Italy. For instance, in Italy, there are almost no American products for sale. They do not eat the cereals we eat and finding a jar of peanut butter is next to impossible.
Having gotten used to these differences while living in Italy, I was certainly surprised to see Nature Valley granola bars and Fruit Loops stocked high on the market shelves in Cairo.
Needless to say, the biggest difference while in Italy was the coffee. American cafes and Italian cafes couldn't be more distinct. Feeling far-removed from American coffee culture during my stay in Italy, right before heading back to Europe I stopped in at a very American-looking cafe that I had to try, mostly because I had been craving a mocha frappuccino for months.
Just last year, the Sydney Morning Herald reported “the Australian cafe chain The Coffee Club planned its assault on the Egyptian market … and less than a year after selling a licence [sic] to an Egyptian franchisee, The Coffee Club opened its first cafe on Egypt's north coast.”
The influx of modern cafes may even be a good thing for the region, as they welcome female customers while many ahawi still cater mostly to men.