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Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CI. My Years at 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra – Entertainment (27 of 30)

Trianon (Also known as Le Grand Trianon)

It was founded in 1905, and is still a favorite place for lunch. The ambiance of the past is maintained by its high ceilings and gleaming old paneling. On the opposite side of the restaurant is the bakery, and the pastries there are a fitting conclusion to your meal.

Le Grand Trianon is one of the lucky ones. Its Egyptian owners have retained its name and kept it as a tearoom/restaurant. The menu, needless to say, has changed; thus, you will no longer find a Greek menu of desserts; that would be an impossibility since the Greek chefs have long departed.

Le Petit Trianon

Le Petit Trianon was another star in Alexandria’s firmament. However, unlike some of the other fabled names, it never found a savior. Baudrot is now situated in the space that was once occupied by Le Petit Trianon.

Baudrot

Baudrot is another legendary name. It started as the Alexandria branch of Gianola, a popular Cairo Swiss pastry and tearoom. It was purchased by Giacomo Groppi who later sold it to Auguste Baudrot. At a later date, the business was sold to an Italian woman who eventually sold it to a Greek. The merry-go-round stops with the present owner: Loukia Georges Dimitri Pyrilis.

From the outside, Baudrot looks continental with an elegance that bespeaks of the Alexandria that once was. Loukia is hard at work restoring Baudrot. She has many ideas, however, she is not trying to recreate the old Baudrot. She explains that that would not be possible. “Those were different times. Today we can only have a glimpse of the past, but it is a glimpse that is certainly worth having,” Loukia tells us.

Indeed the “new” Baudrot is no longer at the location it once had; the site is now occupied by a bank.

The loss goes beyond ambiance. The menu of rich Greek desserts and mezzes that Loukia’s father – a third generation Egyptian-Greek who passed away in the ’60s – offered can no longer be reintroduced. The chefs and their recipes are long gone; as well, the ingredients they used would today make the food prohibitively expensive, and keep it out of reach of the average Ahmad.

Baudrot, like Groppi, was way beyond my means. I do not remember ever going there.

Athineos

Athineos is another member of the old guard. Like the previously mentioned places, it has fallen on hard times. However, there is here a mix of both good and bad news.

The view that Athineos offers today is grand: you have the Mediterranean sea spread in front of you; and it overlooks such landmarks as the Quait Bey Fort, and the Al-Masri Abul-Abbas Mosque.

The walls and ceilings are adorned with stylized mock- classical Greek motifs, gilded friezes, and stenciled frescoes. The restaurant is dark-paneled with columns and chandeliers.

That said, Athineos has not aged particularly well. It’s begging to be renovated. Still, its huge banquet hall is often used for weddings and special occasions

The menu comes in Arabic, English, and Greek. Athineos markets itself as a Greek and seafood restaurant, but it is neither.

Gamal Nkrumah (who wrote the article from which I am drawing my information) informs us that the food was disappointing. To add insult to injury, the menu is misleading; it features a wide range of mouth-watering Greek and seafood dishes, but they are unavailable; instead, what you get is common Egyptian fare. Gamal consoled himself with the Ouzo, the potent aniseed-flavored Greek liquor.

He calls his article “Easy with the Ouzo” and concludes that the old Alexandria has gone with the wind.

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