what do you eat?

You’re vegetarian; what will you eat in Dubai?

When we visited Chile with Alfredo’s UCLA classmates in 2008, we went to a Resort & Spa and had a large BBQ / roast pig & chicken & steak feast—BBQs & rows of tables tucked under a lush canopy of trees. There were 4 vegetarians in our group of 50. A server came up to me, holding a plate piled with colorful roasted & raw vegetables, fresh fruit, breads, rice, etc etc., and she asked, Are you vegetable woman? Yes— yes, I am vegetable woman.

I am the salad.

iamthesalad

There are lots of vegetarian options here. Favorites include Lebanese restaurants with their za’atar & breads & muhammara — below is the recipe I’ve used. [If you want more recipes, and/or want to share recipes, email me and I’ll add you to my recipe library, so you can edit & contribute to it, please.]

One of these weekends, I want to try the traditional breakfast dish of ful (have seen it spelled foul and fowl–no chickens harmed).

There are many British pubs, meaning greasy chips, hold the fish, and mushy peas. When we traveled to Venice for our honeymoon, we had a quick layover at the Heathrow airport where we ordered a large dish of mushy peas. Joss Stone was playing over the restaurant’s speakers. Every time I hear Fell in Love with a Boy I crave mushy peas. Every time I eat mushy peas, I crave Joss Stone.

Two nights ago, I was on a 10:45pm grocery run in search of molasses for a friend who wanted to add it to his birthday chili dinner. Found honey, brown sugar & BBQ sauce/mostly molasses. At the checkout: Do you sell molasses? What’s that? It’s sort of a liquid brown sugar. Did you find any? No. Then we don’t sell it.
There was a British man in line. Do you sell pickled eggs? What that? Well, they’re eggs…that are pickled. Did you find any? No. Then we don’t sell it. I can’t find them anywhere in Dubai. I said, you could make them. Give me your card & I’ll experiment. (post to write: Can you drink in Dubai?) I’m going to make my millions here selling pickled eggs to British expats.

What is found everywhere: freshly squeezed fruit juices & smoothies (beet & celery juice is big here—hard to get excited about that when there’s fresh orange, pineapple, apple, pomegranate, strawberry, peach, blackberry–separate or combination). Lots of vegetarian Indian & Thai curries, quinoa salads, and many desserts–thank you, France: crepes, waffles, croissants, pastries, cakes…

On April 13, I went to the art galleries (my favorite exhibition: Discovering Visions Within a Trapped Memory—(a post to write: my day at the art district), I had this afternoon snack at the Lime Tree Cafe: blackberry & lime juice with a ginger cake. Once Lime Tree Cafe sets up their wi-fi, I will live there.

blackberrysmoothiegingercake

Finally purchased things for the kitchen and have been able to start cooking again. Been enjoying going to the various grocery stores and wandering the aisles, looking for the familiar and not. Good avocados are the most difficult & expensive thing to find. Overheard an American on his cell/mobile at TECOM’s Park n Shop: “Honey, none of the avocados are ripe for tonight. What should I do?”

A lot of produce is imported from Australia and Holland. The organic carrots, bell peppers (capsicum), & sweet potatoes I bought the other day all came from California.

Oh, California. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see at least one person—usually 2 or 3— walking by wearing a t-shirt printed with some variation of CALIFORNIA. This was the main display at one of the stores in the Mall of the Emirates (MOE):

youteasetshirts

Los Angeles AND San Francisco’s Sunset district. You tease. You taunt. You make me a touch homesick. (A post to write: Where are you from?) How disappointed would everyone be to know that the Sunset district is one of the most fog-socked sections of The City? California is such a brand that everyone buys—thank you ad men, Mad Men: “California has loomed over the show like a smiling threat.” I’m excited the new season started. But I digress.

Except to say, I like truthful love best heart beautiful imagine the advertisements here in Dubai. Look for a full post on ads. Probably many posts. It’s a feast of abstract nouns. I savor each dish. Delicious.

Alfredo keeps talking about growing a new starter, so he can make bread. I can’t wait for that, so I can make this:

Muhammara
From Pure Vegan; Joseph Shuldiner; Chronicle Books, 2012; pg 68

½ cup raw walnuts (2 ounces)
¼ cup raw pine nuts (1 ounce)
3 red bell peppers (roasted) or 1 jar drained roasted peppers
¾ cup dried bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbs pomegranate molasses
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs Aleppo pepper (or substitute: 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika + 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper)
1 tsp ground cumin
⅓ cup EVOO
salt
freshly ground black pepper
bread

In a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts and pine nuts, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant, about 5 min.
Roast peppers or drain jar.
In food processor, combine lemon juice, roasted peppers, nuts, bread crumbs, garlic, pomegranate molasses, Aleppo pepper, and cumin. Process until smooth, scrape sides. Add EVOO and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Season with salt & pepper, pulse once more to combine.
Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with extra olive oil or lemon juice and whole pine nuts.

Serve with warm bread—preferably Alfredo’s.

Soundrack: Tom Waits, Grapefruit Moon

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too much tragedy

Monday afternoon, 24 March

Killed time & used the wi-fi at La Gaufrette Belgium-inspired bakery (check out that shiny shiny donut) & restaurant in TECOM.

Sat in a back corner, remote, until the tables around me started filling up with servers and I realized I was in their section & this was their lunch break. No one cared, so I stayed, wrote, enjoyed the AC & a teacup of hot chocolate that delightfully came with tiny cookies–good, but I don’t know if it was worth 18 AED/$5.

cup of hot chocolate with cookies on the saucerFocused on their conversation only briefly when I heard a woman say, You need to go outside–you have too much tragedy!

chocolate glazed donutA guy at the other end of the group banged the corner of the table. She said again, Go outside. He got up: tall, mid-20s–as most of the servers were–not fat, but not in shape–reminded me of Adam Sandler–and very red faced. He walked toward her. Two shorter guys got up and blocked his path. The guy stopped. She said, Are you mad? Yes, I’m mad! He turned away. Where are you going? Outside, like you said! The other two let him go. I stopped paying attention. Eventually, everyone finished their lunch, cleared the tables, went back to their shifts.

An hour or so went by.

I got up and walked around the corner to the cash register to pay my bill (bill, not check) just as the guy (manger?) behind the register started berating a waiter–not my waiter: Where’s the money from table 43?! The waiter’s face was blank. Table 43! The money?! The waiter saw me. Then manager saw me–no apologies to me or the waiter–said: Hot chocolate, ma’am? He took my money and I left.

Tuesday evening, 1 April

The game of where do you want to eat? I don’ know–where do you wanna eat? ended with us at La Gaufrette. We were both very hungry. We sat inside, near the pastry counter and close to the kitchen. It took awhile for a waitress to take our order. Then we waited some more. We watched the woman behind the pastry counter make crepes.  We thought of tortillas. Joked, do you think they’d put rice and beans in that? We missed San Francisco’s burritos the size of chihuahuas. We sat there. We watched other people’s food come out of the kitchen. We waited. I was facing the glass windows to the outside patio. I watched one guy smoke his shisha and his friend smoke the skinniest cigarette, which I thought was a lollipop in his mouth until he lit the stick.

The friend took a drag, then started talking and waving the hand holding the cigarette. A few times, he brought the cigarette to his lips, but would think of more things to say and as the words flooded from his mouth, he had no room between his lips for the cigarette. He waved the cigarette around some more. He finally took a drag, but it was more like a kiss placed gently on the end of the filter. He went back to waving it around. He finally took a decent drag, which shortened the skinny cigarette by half. We still didn’t have our food. He continued to talk. I watched: his hand and mouth in constant motion. The other guy cradled his shisha hose on his chest between draws. The friend finally took one more good drag and finished his cigarette. He lit another.

From the kitchen we heard a noise. Sort of low at first. A waaaaahhhh. Then it got louder. Other people around us heard it. The moan increased–into a sort of scream. More and more people stopped eating, talking, smoking, until everyone inside and outside the restaurant were frozen and staring in the direction of the kitchen.

Some thoughts I had–in increasing order based on volume level: someone dropped a full plate of food…is that a man?…someone got cut…a fire broke out…are they being serious or mocking?…someone’s on fire…is that a woman?…there’s a snake in the kitchen…the entire kitchen is on fire. they have knives.

An American guy got up and walked half-way to the kitchen door–I don’t know what his plan was–but at that point, the kitchen’s swinging doors burst open and a man came out–the same Adam-Sandler-looking guy as yesterday–followed by two shorter guys–same 2 as yesterday–and then a small woman–same small woman as yesterday. Adam-Sandler was smirking, smug. Like he thought he’d won–whatever. The short guys had their hands up, in case Adam-Sandler decided to lunge at the small woman. He didn’t. The short guys pushed Adam-Sandler to the front of the restaurant. The small woman slipped back into the kitchen. A manager-like woman showed up. She took Adam-Sandler aside and chewed him out.  His expression never changed. She told him to wait tables on the patio. He made it clear he didn’t like that, but went outside anyway.

There was too much tragedy.

The American guy, still standing in the middle of the room, told the manager-woman he was unhappy with the service and could she send someone to take his order now, please.

We still didn’t have our food. We talked about leaving. We didn’t move.

An ambulance with full sirens drove up and parked to the side of the restaurant. The guy with the shisha, leapt out of his chair, dropped his pipe and ran to the ambulance–out of my view. A few minutes passed. A few more. The sirens stopped. The lights stopped. The guy calmly came back to his table and his skinny-cigarette-smoking friend. Our food arrived. We ate and went back to the hotel.

The tragedy was over.

Soundtrack: Big Harp Some People Are Born Strange

because why not

Have you ever touched a camel? Do you know what a camel smells like? Can you imagine milking a camel?

No? Try replacing camel with goat or sheep.

It tastes like that. Or, more accurately: lanolin.

Camelait camel milk

bottle Camelait camel milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soundtrack: The Smiths, Girl Afraid

“I’ll never make that mistake again / I’ll never make that mistake again…no”