Posts Tagged ‘culture’


Belated Thanksgiving

March 17, 2013

Posted by Kanga.

table full of food

Saturday we finally had our postponed Thanksgiving meal. We shared the traditional meal with our Indian, Pakistani, British and African friends.
There was turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, green bean casserole, cornbread dressing, California olives, and dill pickles. Two pumpkin pies and a pecan pie topped it off.

Daddybird orchestrated the cooking. Volunteers were put to work dicing veggies or mashing potatoes.

It was a pleasant evening with good friends and great food.


The Adventure of Fried Chicken

October 25, 2012

Posted by Kanga.

As a young child, my first anatomy lessons came at the kitchen sink as I watched my mother cut up the chickens we raised on our farm. I would point at organs and ask “what is that?” and “what does it do?” Once the organs were extracted and sorted out (edible and non-edible) she had a very specific and methodical way of cutting up the chicken for frying. It was very similar to this:

How to cut up a chicken per Gourmet Sleuth

with the addition of cutting out the wishbone and taking out the breast bone and sternum before cutting the breasts apart. There was also a very specific way of arranging the chicken in the cast iron frying pan so that it would all fit. The cutting method makes for very easily identified pieces once cooked and served. You knew if you were getting a thigh or a breast.

This is apparently a very Western thing. In the East, it is all about a sharp meat cleaver and the cutting up is rather random. It certainly isn’t limited to separating the pieces neatly at the joints. Any and all bones may be chopped in mid shaft. This results in a guessing game as to what you are getting and the proliferation of bone shards. You might even end up with all joints and no meat.

I miss the logical, methodical, industrial revolution way of cutting up chicken. I also miss the wishbone. How does any one get their wishes around here?


Ramadan 2012

August 7, 2012

Posted by Kanga.

Last week we revisited the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding for the iftar meal. This is an excellent program introducing tourists and ex-pats to Emirati food and traditions. The volunteers do a very good job of explaining traditions and are open to any questions.

man and woman dressed in Emirati fashion

We opted for “Eastern wear.”

people seated on cushions

We attended the event with some of our friends.

bedouin man serving coffee

Arabic coffee served by a bedouin.

containers of food laid out on the carpet

The meal.

young Emirati man talking with three women

Several young Emiratis volunteer at the center. During the dinner they mingle with the attendees to converse and answer any questions. Mohammed, from Sharjah, had his hands full in conversing with us. Our friends are all “old timers” in the UAE. DaddyBird and I, with our four years of residency, are the new comers. Mita came to Dubai about the time that young Mohammed was born.

interior of a mosque

After the meal, the group walked to the nearby mosque for a basic introduction to Islamic concepts and rituals.

approximately 50 people seated on the floor in the mosque


traditional buildings lit at night

After a walk back to the cultural center, it was time for dessert and a question/answer session.

dessert dishes laid out on the carpet

Just in case you came to this blog for information on Ramadan, here are the basics: Ramadan is a month in the Arabic (lunar) calendar. During this month, muslims fast during the day (sunrise to sunset). This means no food or liquids. They also exercise discipline by refraining from things like sex or smoking. The goal is to focus on being a better person. Once the sun sets, the fast is broken with an iftar meal. This meal may be done in the home, at the mosque, or at a restaurant. Another meal, suhoor, is eaten in the early morning hours before sunrise and the beginning of the next fast. It is not uncommon to stay awake most or all of the night and sleep during the day. Work hours are usually reduced to 6 hours (8 am to 1 pm, or 9 am to 2 pm). Some businesses close during the day and open after sunset.

For those in Dubai, we recommend the meal related events at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. During the other months (non-Ramadan) they serve both breakfasts and lunches. It is well worth the time and money.


Fujairah Celebrations Continue

December 12, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

three camels and people observing

The Al Saif sword competition and accompanying celebrations continue through December 17th. So, last Friday we headed down to the Fort to see what was happening. We were too late to see the bull butting contest or the camel race, but some of the camels were still out basking in the attention of their admirers.

man and small boy riding a camel

This little fellow was lucky enough to get a ride.

meat on skewers

We had a tasty snack of lamb and chicken skewers.

pottery, platters, coffee pots and other traditional items

A wide range of traditional items were on display – pottery, tools, platters, coffee pots, etc.

two camels laying down

More camels – these are taking a rest. In the background, a horse and a miniature pony who have been giving rides to children.

men resting in a tent

Two majlis tents were available for those wishing to sit, rest and enjoy each other’s company. (Majlis has a variety of meanings, but generally refers to any area where people sit comfortably and discuss.)

The activities at the Fort have been very enjoyable, much like a county fair. These are genuine foods, activities, sports, and arts of the local area.


Cultural Expressions

May 11, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

Who would have thought that the “caution: children” signs on school buses would be a place for cultural expression?

sign on school bus showing children in traditional dress

I posted this picture before. My best guess it that this is an older sister and younger brother in Emirati dress. Since then, I’ve been watching for these signs on school buses and noticed that the silhouettes reflect the nationality or ethnicity of the school.

boy with headress, girl with bonnet

Again, I’m guessing, but these seem to be Pakistani children, a brother and younger sister.

brother and younger sister

This is a slight variation on the previous.

generic silhouettes of older children

The high school bus has generic figures, but they are clearly older.

two "caution: children" signs on a single bus

This one doubled up, just to be safe. The silhouettes seem to be generic Westerners.