Virtuoso Life - July/August 2017 - 46
On the Table
top left: Arabic
coffee service in
the lobby of The
Dubai, yacht life on
the Dubai Canal,
snacks from Ewaan
restaurant at The
Dubai, and Zaman
True Dubai Flavor
Get a taste of authentic Emirati cuisine.
BY CAROL PUCCI PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIDDHARTH SIVA
V I RT U O S O L I F E
DOZEN OF US SIT ON LOW
cushions as we sip thimbles
of Arabic coffee flecked
with cardamom and saffron. Barefoot and dressed in a long
white kandura (robe), our host passes
dates and refills our cups in a traditional Arab welcome.
So begins an evening at Dubai's
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in the United
Arab Emirates. Over platters heaped
with bedouin-style stews, cinnamonscented rice, and dumplings soaked
in date molasses, we discuss everything from religious customs to local
dress (kanduras and headdresses for
men, black abayas for women).
Hosted by Emirati volunteers, the
dinners expose visitors to a cuisine
not found in the trendy restaurants
popular with expats and foreign
workers, who have reshaped life here
since the discovery of oil in the 1960s.
In the space of 50 years, Dubai transformed from a village of fishermen
and bedouin herders into a modern
metropolis of skyscrapers and airconditioned shopping malls. It can
feel more like Las Vegas than a city in
the heart of the Arab world.
"A lot of people who come to Dubai
eat Italian, French, Mexican, and everything else, and don't experience
the local food or the Emirati culture,"
says Dubai resident Arva Ahmed,
who takes travelers on food-focused
walking tours. (Arabian Adventures,
Virtuoso's on-site tour operator in
the area, coordinated our outing
with Ahmed's company, Frying Pan