A Global Village trip just to eat through the different countries’ pavilions?
HECK YEAH, SIGN ME UP NOW!!!
The pomegranate juice Didi got from Tunisia.
So I did. Sign up, that is. Note the bold, red font is there to express the excitement that coursed through me at the thought of a night of pure gluttony.
Accompanied by fellow (or female) Fooderati members D for Delicious (Didi), Miss Stovetop (Mishti), In a Frying Pan (Arva), and friends Sssourabh and Radhika, we demolished countries in our wake. Or at least a couple of food stands within each. Here’s my food journey (in chronological order; also, I didn’t eat everything alone…we shared!):
1. Mexican Shawarma (Egypt)
What on earth is an Egyptian Mexican Shawarma? Perched over smouldering chunks of charcoal, you’ll find two spits slowly roasting under a store that’s right outside the Egypt pavilion (as a random trivia fact, this place is called: “مطعم الدهان المصري” which I know translated into “Restaurant of the Egyptian something” so I Googled and as far as I can tell, it means “restaurant of the Egyptian paint/painter”). They have two options: Mexican and Italian. The Mexican one, they said, was spicier, which was given away by the fiery red look of the meat on the spit. We picked that one. Then we stuffed our faces in front of the glass barrier, pushed our way through the side to take pictures of within the kitchen and generally made a nuisance of our food blogger selves until they gave us the shawarma so we could leave them alone. Was it good? Yes. Would I have it again? Yes. It was hot, the bread was crispy and crackly, and the meat was tender. Loved the spices.
2. Dondurma (Turkey)
Dondurma is what they call Turkish ice-cream in Turkey. This one can be found at a stall adjacent to the Egypt pavilion. I had dondurma for the first time at the Turkey airport when I had a stopover for a few hours. So when I saw it here, I squealed. I HAD TO TRY IT (as did Sourabh). As is expected with the dondurma dudes, the guy behind the counter tantalised by pretending to drop the ice cream while doing a 360-degree flip of the cone with the ice cream on top (causing a few food bloggers to squeak), and I got my chocolate Turkish ice cream, along with Sourabh. Here’s the thing: I liked it…but it tasted like ordinary ice cream. What differentiates Turkish ice cream from others? Essentially, dondurma is thicker, more chewy and a bit sticky, more so than traditional ones. I wished this one recreated the magic from the Turkish airport. Well worth it though, to view the theatrics.
3. Yemeni honey
We journeyed far beyond…to Yemen. For their honey. Whenever I’ve gone to Global Village (which is rare), and pass by this country’s pavilion, I always notice the “For Married Only” honey and giggle, because once when I asked why it was for people locked in holy matrimony, they laughed and said: “For strength…you know?” Of course. So this time, we got taster spoons of different kinds of honey, including the ‘for married’ variety. Which reminds me: Mishti & Didi, our two married crew members…how you doin’? The honey was pretty good actually, but since we don’t use honey much at home (this is pure assumption; for all you know, my Mom might read this and tell me I am, in fact, as clueless about the kitchen as I ever was and we in fact, do use a lot of honey) I didn’t buy any. But if you’re in the market for good quality honey, pop by here.
4. Baked potato (Turkey)
We saw loads of people walk outside of the Turkey pavilion with steaming baked potatoes. Mishti was on a veg diet that day, and Sourabh is vegetarian, so we decided to try that out too. It was a factory line assembly. Potato>Slice ot open>heap all the veggies>look at us in annoyance when we ask what each and every veg item is>heap some more veggies>take Dhs 25. It was okay. You know…it was a baked potato. Nothing more, nothing less. I wasn’t disappointed because I had no expectations. Potayto, potaahto, poetaaaato (I bet only one person will get this).
5. Baklava (Turkey)
I saw a baklava stand and squealed again. Luckily, Sourabh mentally squealed too. We first got a plate of two pieces. I took the top half of one (which Arva pointed out rightly, was quite silly, because I missed the nutty bit) and bit into it, and OH MY FOODEE HEART, it was so rich. It oozed as I sunk my teeth and I had to position myself such that rogue oozey honey/syrup didn’t fall on my precious camera. If you’re not into rich sweets, don’t bother. But if you can appreciate the gooey, nutty love that went into making this masterpiece, go for it. I loved them enough to take a box home. Happy Baklava’d Dee.6. Lamacun (Turkey) This is something I saw on Nausheen’s list at Dubai Bites (link below), and went absolutely bonkers (in a good way) when I found out it was the Turkish version of Lahme Bajine (a large flatbread with cured meat and tomatoes on top). Now, I have a long history with this most awesome dish, which I shall now tell you, whether you want to know or not. As a child, my grandfather who was a foodie in his own right, would sometimes go to Al Reef Lebanese Bakery in Karama, buy a nice, hot batch of Lahme Bajine and I’d eat my way through the lot. Since then I’ve a deep sense of appreciation of the warm, comforting smell of the bread, the aroma of the meat mingled with the soft, chopped tomaroes…and the happiness one gets out of it. *snaps fingers* Okay, come back to the present. The Lamacun was decent, spicier than I normally find lahme bajine (distinction here on the fact that the lamacun is not spicy; merely spicier than how the dish normally is).
7. Feta Cheese and Parsley Gözleme (Turkey)
Oh but Turkey, what have you been hiding from me! Gözleme is a hand-rolled savoury snack (made live in front of us too with a woman oblivious to the crowds watching her as she rolled pastry dough to perfection), with this variety stuffed with parsley and feta cheese. Given to us piping hot, when you bite into it, there is indeed an explosion of melting cheesy parsley bits mixed with bread in your mouth. I apologize to my Fooderatis since I’m quite certain, looking back through my cheese haze, I ate quite a lot of it. Can you ever forgive me??? *makes Puss-in-Boot eyes*
8. Kashmiri Chai (Pakistan)
Walking under a canopy of green-coloured flags, I decided to try some Kashmiri chai and ended up giving Didi and explanation of Kashmir and why it’s found in both India and Pakistan, and so on. The chai was fine – but I still like mine karak. So if milky, nutty and sweeter chai is not your cup of tea (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?), then don’t have it. If you’d like to experiment, this is pretty decent.
9. Dutch mini-pancakes (Holland)
We veered ourselves to the China pavilion because Mishti wanted to buy some items there. On the way there, a cart positioned a little away from it, called to us. Well, it called to Arva like helpless babies in a nest scream for Mommy bird, and we (Didi and myself) followed. Dutch mini-pancakes. I loved the sign on the board…with the pancakes, all the toppings are free, except for Nutella, which adds Dhs 5 to the price. So 10 mini pancakes heaped with gooey Nutella and a little smidgeon of cheese on the side were given to us. Good, sweet dessert right there. Tasted better when I mixed the cheese and chocolate though.
<<< Around this point, we lost three comrades – Sourabh, Radhika and Mishti – to the Curse of the Tired Feet. >>>
10. Bambalouni (Tunisia)
I can’t recall why we moved into the Tunisian pavilion, so whoever’s idea it was: own up so I can give you all my love (and an awesome cup of chai). All the way down the end of the pavilion was a food stand, with jolly men frying things away. Didi said this was the Tunisian donut, and of course we had to try it! The guy behind the counter was absolutely amazing; he posed for the pics, fried the donuts with flair, adding as much pizzazz as he could, to spice it up for the crazy people clicking away. LOVE IT. I love it so much this is the only food item that gets two photos in the post.
Anyway, the fried donut came out, was coated in a generous helping of sugar and plonked on a plate for us. It was quite obviously searing, so I waited till it cooled out and took a bite. Made simply out of flour, this is one of those simple snacks that is perfect and yummy because of its non-complexity. I ran back to the guy to ask him what it was called, and he said “Bambalouni” and here we are. Who knew some flour and sugar could give your tongue some tingles?
11. Falafels (Palestine)
Another item on the list I had printed out, I was curious – especially after my epic falafel trek – to see what these tasted like. Again, people who were extremely agreeable to us stuffing our cameras down their kitchen, they crackled up some hot falafels for us immediately. These are, beyond a doubt, the lightest falafels I’ve ever eaten. When I say light, I mean the insides are not too heavy, not a massive part in the eating experience. What these falafels offered me were: pops and crackles. An extremely crispy falafel gave way to a super-light paste. Bite-sized delights.
12. Churros (Spain)
<<< We were re-united at this point, albeit sans a song-and-dance >>>
Without a doubt, this was the least liked of the items I ate that day. Believe it or not, while watching the churro-making process was fun, while the thought of dipping it into pure melted chocolate was insanely appealing…when you bit into it, it’s as if it was made by dunking it in a tub of salt. Salty churros??? Maybe we got them on a bad day or something, but I’m in no hurry to try these again. I did see Didi check out some cheese at this pavilion and she looked supremely happy with her buy; so Didi, if you’re reading this, can you let me know what kind of cheese you bought?
13. Go to Global Village, get one Butterscotch Cake and a car chase free
The abbreviated version: Mishti bought baked cake which Arva forgot to take. I chased Arva’s car down, did not fulfil Radhika’s expectation of throwing the box across two open windows of moving cars, stopped on the side of the road and delivered the box safely. THE END! Oh but the cake was divine.
So there you have it…my epic Global Village food trip. My favourite items from the night are the bambalouni, baklava and the shawarma. Go in a massive group, and experiment! Thank you Didi for organizing this one.
Some related posts from fellow food bloggers:
Dubai Bites: Around the world in 80 minutes – top 10 things to eat at Global Village
D for Delicious: You know food bloggers are close by when…
D for Delicious: 10 Power Tips for your Global Village trip
I Live in a Frying Pan: What Went Down at Global Village