food


Living out of a hotel for 2 months has meant I have gone out and explored different places and foods. I have some pictures for some of the foods and places I have been. The most amazing thing about my trip food wise is that the Msa7ab sandwich (de-boned chicken)  of my childhood is still to be found from the same place and with the same amazing taste 22 years later!

Image

This is the place of the famous sandwich full of garlic and amazingly cooked chicken. PURRRRRR.

Image

And this cocktail is the perfect accompaniment to the said sandwhich. And by the way, this hasn’t changed either – mango, strawberry, and banana!

But this Cocktail from a shop in Salmiya is amazing as you can see 🙂

Image

Image

Imageu

A cool menu that kuwaitifies its offerings. Really cute.

Image

Tea is served on a metal saj to keep it warm with some hot coals

Image

Tea with spices, milk and sugar (shakar) cubes. Yum!

In the Middle of the Mubarkieh Souq is an alleyway filled with tables and hungry people enjoying fresh fish, fresh bread and other yummy things.

Image

Image

Pomegranate Salad

Image

Freshly grilled fresh fish picked by my dinner mate!

In another part of town in a place that is slightly more upscale we get to see the menu in pictures on an ipad! This is a very common thing to see in Kuwait. Is this happening in other places, digital pictures instead of paper?

Image

Not the same burger but it’s sister did arrive. This one was called the ninja burger and came with a date sauce.

Image

Image

This was a fusion of two of my favorite things pumpkin and cheesecake. I have noticed that in Kuwait sweets are not to be taken lightly. So many places making cakes and cupcakes and there is a lot of cheesecake to be had too.

Image

A breakfast feast, Homus, Ful, falafel, fateh, ash, fresh bread, and so much more. And some of the bread was made with dates mixed into the dough. It wasnt sweet as one would think… it was amazing.

Image

I did not manage to get a picture of all the amazing food before we devoured it! This was an Indian feast not to be missed.

Kuwait is a place that has a lot of western franchises, but if you look hard enough there are a lot of amazing local places and foods that are worth exploring.

So really I am not big on organized religion or religious rituals but there is something special for me about Ramadan. It is if anything a family time when my dysfunctional family puts most of its dysfunctionality aside and we gather for the iftar meal around one table. Sometimes we are passive aggressive yet most times we are civil. It is a time for me to bring friends to the family home, to break bread to commune together. It has been the norm for 33 years.

The first of Ramadan is especially special because we as a family have our ritualistic meal of all white dishes to kick off the month. We don’t accept invitations on the first of Ramadan but I have always cheated and invited some to ours on this day because I truly believe no one should be alone on the first of Ramadan- especially if they are fasting! The first of Ramadan meal is the one meal throughout the year that we can count on. It consists of sweet corn chicken soup (for its milky white color), chicken fateh (for the white yogurt it has on top and the white meat), fatoush (with white radishes in it), and cheese burak made from scratch and cheese atayef (both stuffed with white goat cheese). Everything is white for good luck and to start off the month with the symbolism that white embodies.

This year though it doesn’t feel like Ramadan. Nothing on the streets, in the shops or even on people’s faces says it’s Ramadan. I actually had to double check with friends if it is so! This saddens me for not only am I missing my favorite meal of the year, I feel I am missing out on the great excuse to come together with friends and family to eat copious amounts of food, complain about the boredom and restrictiveness that is Ramadan, among other things. Ramadan is to me ingrained as a cornerstone of the year a cultural marker of my life that is changing and slowly slipping away. I know that some of my friends will be envious of my stay in Beirut where nothing will change and the restaurants, bars and banks all stay open for business as usual. But you know I miss the business as unusual, the good, the bad and the ugly of it!

Ramadan Kareem to those of you that celebrate in every which way you do. Please have an extra piece of atayef for me.

Have you been to the little hole in the wall of a restaurant called Pinoy at second circle? Its tiny little restaurant that serves Pilipino food and on the wall is a sign that says “we have hallo hallo”. Firstly, the name is just beautiful you want keep saying it halo hallo, hallo hallo, hallo it’s so much fun. Secondly, it’s a nice cold sweet drink that has chunks of fruit, jelly beans, and sweet corn. The drink is made by placing the chunky bits at the bottom, adding crushed ice to that and then filling the top with condensed milk. When you get it you have to stir it all up and then hallo hallo you have your drink to eat and sip all at the same time.

If you aren’t interested in the drink then try out some of their ethnic dishes. All of them are prepared by Pilipino women, so you know you are getting the real deal. And it seems that every day the menu changes because once you go in above the kitchen window is a little white board with “today’s menu” on it, each item written out neatly and its price tag next to it. Everything was freshly made that day, it all looked good and what we had tasted good.

Pinoy is place run by Pilipinos for their community, so sitting there you can observe the goings and comings of the customers. I was fascinated by all the women that were chattering and ordering and coming and going. I wanted to stay longer but the place filled up and I guess they needed the table since we were done. I highly recommend that you drop by the dinky hole in the wall for a good meal and a very different and casual dining experience.

I started to cook at age 12. It was out of necessity and so not a joy. I was taught to cook over the phone and with notes left in the kitchen with instructions from my mother. I went from using precise measurements and exact steps to my own style of throwing in handfuls of things and using my eyes to measure out salt and spices. I would prep my foods in the morning before school and return to finish off the meal in the afternoon before everyone else came back from school. I continued to cook for our household until I was 22, at which point I hung up my apron and said no more.

My relationship with cooking was formed by obligation and not out of love for the kitchen. But once I stopped cooking out of obligation, I realized that I liked to cook and feed people. So now when I cook it is because I want to. I also recognized a couple of years ago that when in distress, I cook. 

There is a sense of accomplishment, there is acknowledgment, and a sharing of joy when you cook for people. Yesterday, I cooked for three hours and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I loved thinking of the menu, setting my shopping list, prepping, frying, chopping, cooking, baking, all of it. My favorite part of the meal was when I laid out the table with all the cooked dishes, their smells, and flavors wafting up to us. Our mouths watering in anticipation. Our eyes feasting on the colorful array of foods. It was picture perfect. We dove in, tasting all dishes, leaving nothing to our imagination. 

The satisfied looks and the full bellies told me the meal was a success and that is the reward of a pleasure afternoon in the kitchen. 

For those that are curious our menu was:

Sweet Corn Chicken Soup
Musaka (Greek Style)
Spinach Artichokes with chicken and ginger
Ginger Jasmine rice
Baked Chicken and Potatoes
Vanilla and Chocolate Ripple Ice Cream