Friday, December 18, 2009

A trip to the store

I confess, when we first started wrapping our heads around moving here, I thought my trip to buy food would be by strolling through an old souq, where I haggle with the shopkeeper about the price of cardamom.

The reality is not quite drawn from the same picture.

The market closest to us is in the Al Jimi mall, and it's the Carrefour, the French supermarket chain. It is awesome in its own way, in that almost every product I can think up is on the shelf. The produce aisles have exotic things like jackfruit, durian and Egyptian custard apples sitting alongside the more familiar but still not everyday quince, mandarines and the like. The spice aisle is a collection of open bags, people come up and taste them right out of the bag before buying. Part of my food budget is devoted just to trying new things, so yesterday I purchased "lemon salt". When home, I tried it, and to my amusement it was citric acid. Add that to the lost in translation list. Whole nutmeg in the shell, whole cardamom, rice, rice and more rice, and amazing fresh fish will make it into our kitchen when we have our own place. We made simple ol' fresh perch last night, smothered in a yogurt and gouda sauce, broiled. The recipe came straight out of a Dubai lifestyle magazine.

On the recipe note, I tried to go shopping for cookbooks here, but they're all in Arabic. Recipe searches I do online drive me to Gourmet's Morrocan Chicken, or Epicurious' Lebaniese tagine; not authentic in the slightest, so I'm looking for a good archive based here, in English is the trick, for the stuff that our next door neighbors are making.

Clementines and basmati rice from Pakistan, mandarines from Lebanon, yoghurt from the UAE; everything is labeled with the country of origin. And, the halal meat is fantastic. I recommend to anyone who can buy it, do so. We had some of the freshest beef I have had in a long while, and I have roots in cattle country, Nebraska. The chickens are normal-sized and fresh, with labels that say halal and 'hand-slaughtered'.

Tonight, we're having a mint and paprika chicken with peper and tomato relish, with couscous.

These first posts are definitely not my shining moments in journalism; I'm just trying to catch up on the experiences here.

1 comment:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Stay positive!