Breakfast for many of us in the UK and Europe means a bowl of cereal soaked in milk; Cornflakes, Weetabix, Rice Crispies or oats in the form of porridge to name but a few. But in much of the Middle East, the day starts with 'ful' (pronounced 'fool'), a dish made from cooked faba beans (small broad beans) flavoured with cumin seed and garnished with an assortment of condiments, including olive oil, salt, pepper, lime juice, crumbled hard-boiled egg and chopped chillies.
In Egypt alone, where faba beans have been a breakfast staple since the dawn of civilisation, about 2,000 metric tons (dry weight) are consumed every day and nearly all of it is imported. The 'ful' is served with flat unleavened bread in homes, restaurants, cafés and from the brightly coloured Egyptian breakfast carts that are stationed on street corners in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said, Aswan and all towns in-between.
The UK is a major supplier of faba beans to Egypt and the wider Middle East. Good quality, taste, value and a quick transit time (12 days) make 'ful-inglisi' a firm favourite, especially in the restaurant trade.
IYOP (International Year of Pulses - 2016) is seen by the UK pulse trade as a unique opportunity to promote and encourage the production and consumption of UK grown pulses (faba beans and marrowfat peas). IYOP is a great platform, but promotion, as we all know, costs money. So, starting in July 2015, the UK pulse industry, through its trade association BEPA, is instigating a voluntary export levy of 10 pence (15 USA cents) on each metric ton of peas and beans exported. This will provide the trade with the money they need to strut their stuff both at home and abroad.
High in protein and fibre as well as low in fat, cooked faba beans have a much better nutritional profile than processed cereals with milk, so breakfast in Luxor is considerably healthier for you than breakfast in London, and you'll also feel fuller for longer. Clearly a case of 'more fool us!'
Marcus Coles at Maviga