Why the meadow of good food I’ve been rolling around in hasn’t made it to this blog.

I’ve had more than my fair share of awesome eats lately. But at the end of all of the prancing and fluttering about, I really don’t have much to share with you, other than this…date bread.

This old-time classic hails from Safestway, the supermarket that was gourmet for us twenty years ago. The supermarket that is so old by Dubai’s standards that it’s already undergone one entire name change (Safeway -> Safestway). The supermarket that really should be granted some sort of ancient heritage status in this baby city that we live in.

Safestway stands right there, in the place it’s always been, strong and very short by Dubai standards, reigniting childhood memories for those of us dragons who’ve lived here since the 70’s and 80’s. Despite all the new twirly glass panelled buildings that have soared up along Sheikh Zayed, poor old dusty Safestway continues to wobble on, a stubborn bastion of old-time treats like the date bread that my friends had been reminiscing about a few weeks ago. I had to go back and check if they still had it, and they do. Ta da.

This should go down in the yet unbuilt, museum of Dubai Food History. But when it IS built, I can assure you that it will be The Biggest, The Shiniest, The Most Ancient Amongst New Cities of The World Museum that will ever be built. I reckon it’ll break at least three world records. Or even four, because maybe someone in the marketing department will figure out how to spend the most amount of money that can ever be spent on building a museum. I hope some of those funds go towards designing a fantabulous museum cafeteria. Serving the most expensive Malyali anda paratha that could ever be served on the face of the planet.

Stuffed into the doughy protruding arms of this tender star-shaped bun is a grainy, sweet date paste. I’ve nibbled it plain, toasted, dipped into tea [and then fished out sheepishly when the entire chunk splashed in]…it tasted great every time. I think it could be a serious contender on the Friday brunch table when served with something decadent, like creamy mascarpone cheese, or if it’s covered in custard and baked up as a bread pudding.

But getting back to the meadow of food I’ve been rolling around in lately, some of it has been for food obsession articles [the fun stuff that I eat to earn, so I can earn to eat more fun stuff. The voracious cycle.], sponsored meals that I usually don’t write about, or random odds and ends for [warning: shameless plug on its way] Frying Pan Food Adventures. Have I ever mentioned that crazy business idea to have people eat around Old Dubai with me? Yeah, that. I’ve been working on it since February, and this month is GULP. It’s License Approval Month. And IF I get my license, soon I’ll have other anxiety attacks. The worst one being, what if nobody signs up for my tours? I really, truly, don’t want to be that lone pathetic food-tour guide…who’s sitting all alone at some rickety table at some decidedly not-happening restaurant…waiting for last minute tour participants to magically plonk down from the restaurant ceiling…chewing on the complementary plate of bitter pickles as she waits…

I blame all of the above, articles, tour ideas et. al on my reduced frequency of restaurant posts. And the frequency may get worse for the next two weeks, because I’ve got ‘Dubai tourism license classes’ every day, for the next ten days. Ungodly 7.30am to 2.30pm. So I am not a slacker, really, truly. *puppy eyes*
*disarming pouty lips*
*charming hair curl innocently falling across ear*
*all of the above, simultaneously, if that makes you more sympathetic to my cause*

….*disclaimer: all of the above simultaneously doesn’t look all that pretty:*

But all the blaming and pouting and finger pointing aside, I love what I’m doing with the tours. I really do. A current of ecstatic electricity zaps through my body when I see someone sit down at one of the teeny tiny restaurants I love, and enjoy a meal. When their eyes grow wide with surprise at a flavour they hadn’t expected, when they smile with well-fed joy, curry and juice dribbling down their chin, when they sigh with bliss at having stumbled upon a new food discovery, and even when they walk away thinking, I didn’t like it, but boy I’m glad I tried it because it was something new. For those moments alone, every bit of angst over licenses, customers, blog posts that never happened…every bit of angst is worth it.

For one rare moment on this blog, I’m going to cast off my usual flippant writing voice and let the scared little squirrel that lives inside me come out and beg you to, please support the tours over social media (facebook and twitter). And to pray for my food tour license to be approved. I need every knock on God’s door that I can get.

Author: InaFryingPan

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything , remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little city called Bentonville (Arkansas!). After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but genuine appreciation and passionate addiction for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

24 thoughts on “Why the meadow of good food I’ve been rolling around in hasn’t made it to this blog.

  1. Vidhya viju govind says:

    i enjoy reading ur posts Arva. and here the graphics are cute !……… Trust me……ur venture is gonna take off big time real soon!! ur in my prayers !! good wishes always…

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @0c8b08834920fcf2e9d07ea109c148b1:disqus – Thank you for the prayers, wishes and positive words – you’re a sweetheart for saying so!

  2. ngef says:

    I would guess a large percentage of potential clients would be people living in Dubai. Discovering Old Dubai is intimidating (especially when we don’t know our way around or the cleanliness of the food) but everyone talks about wanting to do it. I think your project is a great solution! 

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @c655a7823d85c4632c1a386b0c7d9d3f:disqus – Spot on, that’s absolutely right. I’m hoping that residents in Dubai would look at this as a way of exploring that part of town which often seems too far away or it’s just too congested to figure out. I’m hoping that I can make the jumble of streets and foods more accessible to the people living here.

      Thank you, your words have reiterated what and why I want to do what I’m doing – and very eloquently. Thank you! 

  3. Saleem says:

    Graphics make it more interesting to read. Waiting for the Food Tours to start, will be able to discover quite a few places that were taken for granted. I am sure it will be an experience for old timers like us to explore and enjoy what we have all along missed out.

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @9a1d510f1be63443c618f7d241d72ab2:disqus – thanks daddy! YOU need to give a tour yourself – you’ve lived here for way longer than I have! We could make it the special edition tour, by daddy pan ;)

  4. nadia says:

    Oh, you and your food tours will be a hit! I pray you get your license soon (being in a class at 7:30 am is NOT fun at all). 

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @med0194:disqus – thank you!! I survived the 7.30am today – after two cups of heavy caffeine :D

  5. LaMereCulinaire says:

    You’ll get your license inshallah!

    People will sign up for sure.

    You could also team up with travel/tour agencies in Dubai to give food tours to tourists!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @8ce4c6d216b389f4ececfdca53fa55ec:disqus – thank you for the wishes and support! Yes, I will eventually reach out to tour agencies as well – some of the people in my tour class already work for them so I will be stealing their phone numbers! :)

  6. Drina C | Eaternal Zest says:

    Good Luck in all your endeavours Arva, no one quite deserves that license more than you… awesome job on the food tour idea… one thats much needed in dubeee . xx

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @aad5a49a3c88ff225e1527b6a4b03748:disqus – awww…what a nice thing to say. Thank you Drina, thank you so much. 

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @b955af9e82e4c79b4bab3c653bfd8d40:disqus how sweet are you! Thank you!! :)

  7. Didi says:

    I know so you will succeed! There is a rumbling in the belly of Dubai’s food loving population for your food tours! I am just hoppity, hop, giddy, squealing excited for the tours :) Sending all the positive vibes on passing that tour guide test..I know you will be the Magna Cum Laude / Valedictorian / Top student of the class (if there even exists such an esteemed rank) ;p

    Ohhh I would love to have those date stuffed bread. with your description, it reminds me of something remotely Filipino (see how your words paint a picture on my palate?) and yes to a generous smearing of cheese to complement the sweetness of the dates. I like my sweet and salty together :)

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @didipaterno:disqus – Aw you are always so supportive, I need to build a tower of cheese-covered date bread and dedicate it to you! Thank you Didi!

  8. Dina Murali says:

    All the best Arva, Your gonna be WORLD FAMOUS!! I know it.. i cant imagine why sumone would not want to sign up with u???all the best to you… You will rock!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @2067843e356ba01f84ce3796ac03ed65:disqus – haha, yeah, I think the fame may be a far cry, but there’ll be a crap load of awesome food if I pass ;) Thanks for the support darling, here’s to more momo-like food discoveries! 

  9. CJ at Food Stories says:

    Positive thoughts and prayers headed your way, my friend. Plus, just tell them you’re a Food Stories winner … That should open all the doors!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @FoodStoriesBlog:disqus – Thank you C.J.! I could try writing in the food stories at the end of my research paper…but I think the teacher’s a bit weary of my incessant food talk already :( 

  10. IshitaUnblogged says:

    Ahhh… cute, cute, cute. Only you can make sniffing at toasted bread seem like sniffing into biriyani – want to borrow your writing skills and humour!

    Good luck and all the best wishes for your pan fried advenntures!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @5e8c32b20f4724711dd3c80c2633f364:disqus – hahaha…here, take it *pulls out gray wiry strand of writing talent and entrusts it in Ishita’s hand* 
      (yeah right! hun, you of all people need to loan YOUR skills to the rest of us!)

      Thanks for the good luck wishes, I can’t wait for you to join one of the tours :)

  11. kermanigbakery.com says:

    So it was kind of like a creepy clown that’s been baked in the oven at 125 degrees.Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him.

  12. Su says:

    Hey, i stumbled on your blog today and i guess there are many many new places in the city that you need to review to name a few…Tantuni Rolls, Memsaab in JLT, Pind da dhaba & Goan Coastal Curries and Manvaar in Karama…have fun


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