Use only bottled water for drinking and, to be on the safe side, when brushing teeth. When buying bottled water, check the seal of the bottle is intact. A popular scam is for unscrupulous individuals to collect used bottles from rubbish bins, refill them with tap water, attempt a reseal and sell them as genuine clean bottled water. Also, avoid unbottled beverages and ice except in top hotels and restaurants. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled.You should avoid uncooked vegetables and peeled fruit that may have been washed in tap water, and make sure any poultry or egg-based dishes, and any seafood or shellfish, is thoroughly cooked. Hotels and restaurants are generally safe to eat and drink in, but it is advisable to avoid street vendors.Egyptian food reflects the country's melting-pot history; native cooks using local ingredients have modified Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian traditions to suit Egyptian budgets, customs, and tastes. The dishes are simple; made with naturally ripened fruits and vegetables and seasoned with fresh spices, they're good and hearty. Food in the south, closely linked to North African cuisine, is more zesty than that found in the north, but neither is especially hot. The best cooking is often found in the smaller towns. Although Egyptian cooking can be bland and oily when poorly done, most of the cuisine is delicious.• Bread is one of the mainstays of Egyptian diets. A pita-style bread is the most common and is prepared with refined white flour or with coarse, whole wheat. Aysh shams is bread of leavened dough allowed to rise in the sun, and plain aysh comes in thin French-style loaves.• Native beans are another staple for most Egyptians. Ful beans can be boiled, with vegetables, and then mashed with onions, tomatoes, and spices. This mixture is often served with an egg for breakfast, without the egg for other meals. A similar sauce, cooked down into a paste, fills sandwiches sold on the street. Ful can also be soaked, minced, mixed with spices, formed into patties (called ta'miyya in Cairo and falaafil in Alexandria), and deep-fried. These patties, garnished with tomatoes, lettuce, and tihina sauce, are stuffed into aysh and sold on the street.• Molokhiyya is a green, leafy vegetable that is distinctively Egyptian, and is the basis for a traditional thick soup. Its leaves are chopped and stewed in chicken stock. It may be served with or without chicken, rabbit, or lamb in it. This soup can also be served with crushed bread or over rice. If you're served it straight, it's polite to dunk bread.• Ruzz (rice) and bread are the main ingredients in Egyptian main courses, which may be served either as lunch or dinner. For most Egyptians, meat is a luxury and is used only in small amounts. It is cooked with vegetables, and served with or over rice. But meat dishes, on the other hand, comprise most restaurant fare.• Torly, a mixed-vegetable casserole or stew, is usually made with lamb, (only occasionally beef) and onions, potatoes, beans, and peas. Egyptian-style kebabs are made of chunks of lamb seasoned in onion, marjoram, and lemon juice, and then roasted over an open fire. Kufta is ground lamb flavored with spices and onions and rolled into long narrow balls and roasted. It is often served with kebabs. Pork is considered unclean by Muslims, but is readily available in restaurants as is beef.• Hamaam (pigeons) are raised throughout Egypt and many consider them a national delicacy. They are stuffed with seasoned rice and grilled. They are small so diners often order several.Egyptians serve freshwater and salt water fish under the general term of samak. The best fish seem to be near the coasts (ocean variety) or in Aswan, where they are caught from Lake Nasser. As well as common bass and sole, offerings include gambari (shrimp), calamari (squid), gandofli (scallops), and ti'baan (eel). The latter, a white meat with a delicate salmon flavoring, can be bought on the street already deep-fried. Rice is often varied by cooking it with nuts, onions, vegetables, or small amounts of meat. Bataatis (potatoes) are usually fried but may be boiled or stuffed.Egyptians stuff green vegetables with mixtures of rice. Wara' enab, for example, is boiled grape leaves filled with small amounts of spiced rice with or without ground meat. Westerners often know them by the Greek name of dolmadas or dolmas, but beware ordering them by that name; in Egypt, doma refers to a mixture of stuffed vegetables. Native cheese, gibna, comes in two varieties: gibna beida, similar to feta, and gibna rumy, a sharp, hard, pale yellow cheese. These are normally used in salads and sandwiches. Mish is a spiced, dry cheese made into a paste and served as an hors d'oeuvre.Egypt offers a wide variety of fresh fruits year-round, but since all are tree- or vine-ripened, only those in season appear in markets. In the winter, bananas, dates, and several varieties of oranges abound. Special treats are pink oranges, which have normal skin but the pulp is red and sweet. In summer, melon, peach, plum, and grapes are available. Tin shawki is a cactus fruit that appears in August or September. Egyptian desserts of pastry or puddings are usually soaked with honey syrup. Baklava (filo dough, honey, and nuts) is one of the less sweet. Fatir are pancakes stuffed with everything from eggs to apricots. Basbousa is a sweet made of semolina pastry soaked in honey and topped with hazelnuts. Umm ali, named for Mamluk queen, is raisin cake soaked in milk, served hot. Egyptian rice pudding is called mahallabiyya and topped with pistachios. Egyptian ice cream runs closer to ice milk or sherbet than cream. Fresh fruits are commonly served for desserts.Although Egyptian eating habits may seem erratic, most natives begin the day with a light breakfast of beans (or bean cakes), eggs, and/or pickles, cheeses, and jams. Most families eat their large, starchy lunch around 14h00-17h00 and follow it with a siesta. They may take a British-style tea at 17h00 or 18h00 and eat a light supper (often leftovers from lunch) late in the evening. Dinner parties, however, are scheduled late, often no earlier than 21h00, with the meal served an hour or two later. In restaurants lunch is normally 13h00-16h00, dinner 20h00-24h00.A 10-12% service charge is typically added to hotel and restaurant bills but an extra tip of 5% is normal.