For lunch today I had a falafel sandwich and a chicken shawarma sandwich (total bill: LE 7.50, or about US$1.30). The guy working the register spoke English, like many Egyptians, but the guy making the sandwiches spoke only Arabic. The sandwich guy had a question for me, which a younger customer in a suit helped to answer. The conversation went like this.
Sandwich guy: [Arabic arabic arabic]?
Suit guy: [Arabic arabic]?
Sandwich guy: [Arabic].
Suit guy: He wants to know what you call that.
Me: Call what?
Suit guy: These. (pointing at bowl) What do you call these in America?
Me: Falafel? (hoping that what I had ordered was, in fact, falafel)
Suit guy: [Arabic arabic].
Sandwich guy: [Arabic arabic].
Suit guy: Yes, what do you call falafel?
Me: Falafel? (still worried I somehow got the question wrong)
Suit guy: Yes. What do you call it in America?
Me: Oh. In American we call it falafel. (pause) What do you call it?
Suit guy: Falafel. [Arabic falafel arabic].
Sandwich guy: Ah. [Arabic arabic]. (hands me sandwich)
Me: Shokran. (exit, stage right)
I was reminded of the following classic bit: