Camel Burger at the Oman Diving Center.

Four years down the line and I am no longer surprised at the measures that my husband will go to try new things and spice up his nutritional intake. Hence, if there is a “camel burger” on the menu, he will order it immediately while I gag nearby. I will sit there with my club sandwich while he munches through his “delicacy” frequently blurting out random camel facts to annoy me. For example did you know that “The hump in particular is considered a delicacy and eaten on special occasions, including religious festivals.”?

I am a perfectly rational consumer; I always opt for the Caesar Salad, the sushi or the pizza. Alex on the other hand has eaten dog meat (Korean cuisine influences in Tashkent), dog soup, shark meat, horse meat, barbequed liver and other very questionable dishes. Every time he sees a turtle he asks me if I am willing to learn to make turtle soup. And I am not.

Growing up in Uzbekistan, one would it find it the social norm to have a plate full of salami, smoked turkey and horse tongue. Yes, Tongue. Put that on top of a piece of freshly baked bread, sprinkle some salt and you’ve got yourself an awesome afternoon snack. If you don’t throw up that is. Another frequent ingredient in Uzbek cuisine is the “fat from the ass of the sheep”, pardon my language here. When we first moved to Muscat, and were desperately nostalgic about the food back home, Alex set out to make Uzbek barbeque. In his quest for the right beef/lamp/charcoal/spices he realized the key ingredient is missing- fat! I lack terminology here, but there are fat-rump sheep that store a lot of delicious fat in the behinds. Because of the poor knowledge of cooking jargon and the limited knowledge of the English language from the side of supermarket employees- we approached the butchers’ asking for “the fat from the ass of the sheep”. The expressions on their faces were almost as priceless as actually finding what we needed!

In Oman, and I believe this is a Lebanese trend, minced meat is eaten raw. Combined with spices, salt and sandwiched into pita bread, it actually takes alright and does not have any of that “uncooked” meat smell. It took me over 5 years to gather up the courage to try this dish. I have since been very loyal to “cooked” minced meat, like in spaghetti bolognaise for example.

These extremes do gross me out and I wanted to convert to vegetarianism on several occasions and give up meat and chicken all together (not the seafood- I am concerned- not crazy!), but have always failed because I would still cook for him. What kind of a vegetarian would I be if I still stood there savoring the smell of a nice juicy steak that I am cooking for Alex. Not a very dedicated one, that’s for sure. It is a life style that is very hard to pull off alone. Back in school I and Cynthia saw an advertisement that melted our hearts and converted us for a full day to salad and rice:

Unfortunately nuggets just tasted too damn good. We have not looked back since.