Benjamin/Mohamed Ahmed

If Tamvaco and Clenzo changed their identity when they changed ownership, Benjamin rose to greater heights when it became Mohamed Ahmed. One of the most famous ful shops in Egypt, Mohamed Ahmed really began in two places. This is how it happened. The senior Mohamed Ahmed started his business in 1918. His first shop was in Manshieh in Midan Street, which is now El Nasr Street. It was a ful and falafel shop which continued to function there until 1957.

Benjamin started as a foul shop in 1932, on 17 Shakour Street off Ramleh Station. The shop was situated in its present location near the Jewish synagogue. Benjamin was a rabbi and it was convenient for him to be near his foul shop.

When he left Alexandria in 1957, he asked the two sons of Mohamed Ahmed if they wanted to buy him out. They bought his shop and still own it. The shop is still famous for its ful and falafel. However, new items have been added to the menu: fried cheese, lentil soup and eggs.

Its clientele are from all walks of life. Tourists and visitors to Alexandria make it a point to go and eat there. It is the Mecca of ful and falafel in Alexandria. Famous characters such as Queen Sophia of Spain, Prince Henrich of Denmark, Naguib Mahfouz the Egyptian Nobel Laureate, Demis Roussous the Alexandrian/Greek singer, Fouad el Mohandess the comedian, Soad Hosny the actress, Mustafa and Ali Amin the journalists, Ahmed Zoweil the Egyptian Nobel Laureate, and the children of Gamal Abdel Nasser have all patronized Mohamed Ahmed.

When Mustafa Amin walked one day into Mohamed Ahmed, nobody recognized him. He ate his meal and left. Two days later he wrote an article in the daily paper Al Akhbar in his column “Fikra” all about his experience in the eatery. He said that eating ful was like eating turkey. He pointed out that the shop caters for all kinds of people, and that ministers and porters are all treated the same.

In 1979 Benjamin’s daughter came to Alexandria. She went to the shop, and after she had eaten, she introduced herself to the owners. Every time she comes to Alexandria, she goes there to eat ful.

Recipe of ful

1 kilo of ful
I kilo of yellow lentils
Wash both in boiling water and put in a pan. Cook over a low fire till they’re ready. Serve with salt, pepper and olive oil.
A variation on this is Ful Iskandarani: add diced tomatoes, onions, parsley, green pepper, garlic and drench with olive oil.