Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Al Fresco in Kuwait

I have had several requests to know what we were eating when we eat in the open courtyard at the Mubarakiya. You Kuwaitis can skip this entry; to you this is not exciting or exotic. To my stateside, European and African readers, this is how it goes:

As soon as you are seated, the waiter brings a little charcoal stove to the table with a steaming hot pot of tea. There is a row of restaurants behind you, one of which has huge gold colored pots of tea brewing at all times. Our Kuwaiti friends tell us that the reason the tea is so strong is that they never wash the pots, just keep brewing tea in them. The tea is STRONG, served in tiny glasses on saucers, and is usually drunk with a good amount of sugar.

Then a plate of greens and onions arrive. The greens taste a lot like basil, very licorice-y, but they don’t look like basil.

You order. We don’t always have the same thing, but what you are seeing here is an order of shish ta-ook (chicken chunks, marinated and grilled, served on a skewer), fresh bread (comes with every order) tabouli ( a salad made mostly of chopped parsley and lemon), muttabel (a salad/dip made of roasted eggplant, tahina and olive oil), roasted lamb with rice, and a sauce made of okra, with a great big ball in it that is some kind of spice we don’t usually use, but enjoy in this sauce.

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There are people at all the surrounding tables; usually one adult comes first, or maybe two, and tables get moved together or apart, depending on the size of the family coming. Then more women come drifting in, laden with shopping bags. They all greet one another and sit, and finally when the food comes, the children show up, eat a few bites, and then are up playing while the adults finish and drink their tea.

Adventure Man has a little black cat friend who likes the fatty pieces of the lamb he doesn’t eat. When he is finished with one offering, he will pat AM’s leg with his little paw, and AM will give him another piece. This is not a skinny, scrawney little cat, but a plump little cat with shiny fur. Guess he gets enough to eat!

At some point during your meal, you will hear the call to prayer, which we like even better now that we know that the muezzins (the ones who do the call to prayer) are all live, not recorded.

A lavish meal for four – more food than you can eat – with tea, and with excellent service, comes to around 8KD – around $30. How is that for a night on the town?

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October 28, 2007 Posted by | Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions | , , | 13 Comments

More Mubarakiya Art

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I think this is a total hoot! Along with the Pacific Coast scenery and fish, we have a Swiss Cow, with a bell, and Alpine scenery.

Here is one I love, a genuine Kuwaiti butcher – I love the glasses! Faces and hands are hard to do, and this artist caught his individuality. I wonder if he is still in one of the smaller meat market shops? Also note the bloodstains on the cutting table!

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And here is a treasure, just outside the older section, near the date souk, badly damaged, and someone has strung a power cord across it, but one of the best pieces in the market. Love the colors, and look at the stone entry – the artist truly captured the feeling of stone. Look at the depths in the door and the window, the shadows and highlights. Look at the folds in the men’s thobes. This artist had some training.

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October 28, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Photos, Public Art, Shopping | , | 6 Comments

Olive Oil Scandal Comment

This is a response to my recent post on The Olive Oil Scandal. I am so delighted when I get a thoughtful and enlightening response like this that I want to give it a separate entry so that it won’t be overlooked by all you bloggers with little time and short attention spans. 😉

It certainly is disgusting. One might note that, though, that none of the above named diluters of olive oil come from Spain, by far the largest producer and exporter of the product.

Currently, in fact, the Andalucian regional government (Andalucía, in which I am an olive grower, produces over 30% of the world’s olive oil) is currently funding a project intended to identify through mass spectometry analysis the molecular ‘signature’ of all the different regional denominations of extra virgin olive oil, enabling bottlers to include this information on barcode-like labels on every bottle marketed and against which the contents could be tested. The systematic adoption of this system, when it is completed, would go along way to protect consumers from the present situation, brought on partly through the fraudulent business practices of various Italian and American producers and sellers.

Also, considering that IOOC olive oil standards have no legal force in the United States, effectively permitting virgin or lampante oil to be sold as EVOO (but not diluted with other oils), the seemingly imminent adoption of international nomenclature by the USDA would be a very positive move. It can’t come soon enough.

Charles Butler’s website, The Olive Oil Gazette, is an absolutely fascinating resource, with all kinds of listings for Olive Oil sites and all kinds of olive oil information, including an article on October 21 about the proposal for the DNA “fingerprinting” of olive oil. Here is what it says about author Charles Butler McKay:

The Olive Oil Gazette is published in Cazorla, Jaén, Spain by Charles Butler Mackay, whose Spanish birth certificate states, correctly, that he was born in Toronto, Canada. Aside from editing this news source, he owns and oversees an olive plantation that has been in his family for a century and a half.

Thank you for your input!

Meanwhile, I don’t want to be sceptical. For a very good price, I found the below olive oil at the Sultan Center, and the lable says all the right things:

Cholesterol Free
Less than 1% acidity
Cold Pressed
It even has an expiration date

And it says it is a product of Syria. Because I am sceptical, I bought it because I thought it had a pretty label:

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October 28, 2007 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Customer Service, Diet / Weight Loss, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Lies, Living Conditions | , , , | 12 Comments