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Cultural Experiences – Both Planned and Unexpected

August 28, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

Our friends from Malta ventured out from Dubai to Fujairah for dinner with us last week. Our planned cultural experience was to go to the Ramadan Food Market to buy the components of our meal and bring it home to enjoy.

We brought home flat bread, fatoush (green salad), tamarind and some kind of berry juices, sausages in bread wraps, tabouleh (chopped parsley salad), hummos, kushari, samosas, pakora, chicken biriani, and probably more, but I can’t remember it all. It was a fun food adventure.

We supplied root beer, the only soda we had on hand. This was a new experience for our Maltese friends, who say that it smells exactly like a surgical spirit solution commonly used back home. [Our friend also confessed to having a pyromaniac phase around the age of eight when he sprayed this surgical spirit (mostly alcohol) on the ground and lit it for fun.] So, root beer, which is right up there with baseball and apple pie on the scale of American-ness is not very appealing to people in the Eastern hemisphere. This might explain why it is rare to find it in grocery stores. Now we’ll have to look for this surgical spirit to do a smell test and see for ourselves.

I had a similar experience when I first tasted Jagermeister (German herbal liqueur). I swear it tastes just like the cough syrup we had when I was little. Just tastes like medicine to me.

Our friends had brought us a treat from Malta – a pudding, which I tried the next morning. Before I tell you what it is like, I must explore the word “pudding.” In America, this word has just one definition. A pudding is a creamy, milk based dessert, like custard. (There are also bread and rice puddings, but again these are desserts.) In Europe and abroad, pudding can mean just about anything – sweet or savory. Christmas pudding is actually a cake. Blood pudding is actually a sausage. So, when someone says “pudding” we are not sure what to expect.

This pudding turned out to be what we would call a fruit cake. It is dense, dark, a bit chocolaty with tasty fruit bits in it.  I’ve tried it cold, warmed up, topped with a little ice cream, and warmed up with butter. Quite good.

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