Amir Edward stands in the corner of his Reseda garage, casually tossing an ever-widening layer of dough. Oiled and stretched, the light golden dough is at its peak pliability when Edward’s hand shows through faintly from the other facet. The bearded, bespectacled Edward returns the sheet delicately to a long steel kitchen prep desk to assemble what will, in times, become 1 of the finest bites of foodstuff out there in the San Fernando Valley. With each extend, the Cairo-born Edward types the soon-to-be crispy, flaky, tacky, meaty Egyptian street snack recognized as feteer — in spite of the care required and the decadence it provides, it is not even his signature menu merchandise.
Edward works by using his family’s garage to function the First Hawowshi, an underground pop-up that presents Egyptian street foodstuff to increased Los Angeles. His namesake dish, the just one that received him started off on this pandemic journey, is a round pocket of minced meat and vegetables pressed into a pita-like bread (named aish baladi) that is best when griddled and dipped in Edward’s possess tahini. This Cairo road food is called hawawshi, with an ‘a’ — Edward insists playfully that he’s the just one offering the dish that “wow” variable, therefore the slight spelling change for his pop-up.
“I preferred to begin anything through the pandemic,” says Edward, 23, who beforehand used time in culinary school in advance of COVID put the plan on pause. “I had a lot of time on my fingers to try diverse recipes, but I had never seriously cooked substantially Egyptian meals.” It appears to be odd at initial, for someone who now earns a residing working an Egyptian street foods pop-up in the Valley, but Edward swears he’s bought a correctly acceptable rationalization: “Why would I prepare dinner? My grandmother life with us, and she’s usually cooking astounding Egyptian foodstuff.”
What Edward’s elder was not cooking were road snacks, the everyday on-the-go dishes like hawawshi that he had grown up consuming and still longed for concerning visits back again to Cairo. The stuffed, transportable hawawshi is in fact a fairly new invention, relationship to a butcher from the early ‘70s who operated out of Cairo’s Souk Al Tawfik sector, but it has proliferated greatly across the region. “I really skipped it,” suggests Edward. “So me staying a prepare dinner and understanding how to get the elements, I imagined that I could maybe make it occur.”
Edward was permit go from his position at a close by Cheesecake Manufacturing facility at the outset of the pandemic, so he expended months dialing in ingredients and bread recipes till he was ready to present his hawawshi and feteer to a wider viewers. He began small in the summer time of 2020, dropping off trays to good friends and at area Egyptian religious centers. “I experienced no intention of blowing up,” he says of those people early times. “I was just attempting to get Egyptians nostalgic when they ate my food items. That is all that I preferred.”
Phrase grew quickly in the Egyptian-American community (a group some 20,000 people today robust that spreads from the Valley through Lengthy Beach front and down into Orange County) that Edward was advertising nostalgia by the piece, and before long plenty of he had a completely ready stable of shoppers for his weekly cooks. He’s been composed about in Los Angeles Journal and was featured on Spectrum News, even though most months his customers nevertheless occur from his Cairo connections. Now, he tries to preserve a semi-typical program outside Salam Lounge in Koreatown, exactly where other younger Arab youngsters go to smoke hookah and hang out. He’s even constructed up a roster of Egyptian Uber and cab drivers who hover all around LAX a few nights a week, buying and selling stories and chatting in an empty parking large amount involving rides. Edward will routinely show up to hand out hawawshi and feteer, sometimes 40 orders at a time, simply because he enjoys to watch his food stuff convey the crowd back again to a private, familiar area.
When the hawawshi has surely received the hearts and minds of homesick Egyptians, it is Edward’s feteer that pops the most on Instagram. An exceedingly slender sheet of dough is loaded with mixtures of cheese, olives, meat, and peppers, then wrapped and crimped into a loose rectangle. The package is fired off in Edward’s moveable fuel oven, then slash into smallish squares, each and every piece a mix of salty, crispy, and wealthy. The cheese pulls absent in extended strands, though the blackened edges give it the right sum of smoke and char. It’s an effortless dish to devour and a mesmerizing a person to watch staying created from an ad hoc garage restaurant in the center of the Valley.
In February 2022, Edward returned home to Cairo at the time additional to see household, building guaranteed to tack on some street-degree research when there. He identified the journey invigorating and inspiring, and hopes to use what he saw to acquire the Unique Hawowshi to new concentrations. “In Egypt, avenue foods is truly popping off suitable now,” he says. “It’s all about the culture and the place. Folks will market kebabs, burgers, fried rooster, hawawshi, anything.”
Back again in LA, Edward plans to begin a sequence of roving pop-up nights throughout the Valley and down into the greater Los Angeles basin, the place he can introduce even much more Angelenos to the energy of Egyptian street food items. And who is aware of, with the right twirl of dough for the right buyer on the appropriate evening, he could possibly stop up in someplace like Smorgasburg, surrounded by other younger operators who started out in the underground. For now, he’s even now on the streets and in the Reseda garage, cooking the sort of foodstuff that comforts him and his community. “To me, road foodstuff is where it is at,” he says. “Not just listed here, all around the entire world.”
The Primary Hawowshi on a regular basis usually takes pre-orders and provides timed pop-ups from a non-public residence in Reseda. Stick to on Instagram for potential community pop-up dates.