Sunday, February 16, 2014


You know you're living in the Middle East when....
I got the brilliant idea that I wanted to make cupcakes for The Gentleman for Valentine's Day, specifically red velvet cupcakes with vanilla icing (NOT cream cheese, as he seems to have some seriously mixed feelings about cream cheese in general as a food item). 

You can buy this at Carrefour! Whatever it is...
This entailed a shopping trip to Carrefour, a rather impressive collection of household goods, where you can purchase anything from pet food to fresh produce to "Indian Gadgets" [no lie - there's a section for that] to small appliances to a Costco-like collection of wardrobe choices. You can find just about anything and everything at Carrefour, as long as you're not uber-scrupulous. And by that, I mean that while you can find really nice coffee makers and hair products, you might be stuck with Hello Kitty for your oven mitt selection. It's a gamble.

It took me approximately nine and a half hours to find everything I needed at Carrefour. This included mens bodywash, tins of cat food, a Black and Decker coffee maker, Listerine, a shower rack, air fresheners, and (of course) cupcake mix and accouterments. My cart looked like one of the ones at the end of a Wal-mart checkout line where the cashier throws everything into it that people decide they don't want at the last minute.


1. Your education has failed you.
Here is the extent of my knowledge regarding the metric system: I know that a 5k is 3.1 miles, a 10k is 6.2, etc. (Thanks, running!) I know, vaguely, that 0 degrees Celsius is very cold and 30 degrees Celsius is very hot. The End.

Thankfully, most measuring cups and spoons handily come in both metric and "regular" measurements (Americentric statement right there), and Betty Crocker is available in the Middle East with both measurements right on the back of the box. But where the metric system confounds me also meets one of the things that terrifies me the most about living abroad: learning to operate household appliances.

Behold, our oven:

What. The what. Is that. It looks like a pictogram off of the cap of a Natty Boh bottle and if you don't figure it out, you risk ruining dinner and possibly your life. Also - Celsius. Given a delicate art such as baking, a few clicks in the wrong direction could spell ruin here.

The Gentleman had warned me that he had to download a .pdf manual and read it cover to cover to figure out how to operate the washing machine, but he hadn't even attempted a use of the oven just yet. So I followed his lead and went online and discovered that I could input the serial number of the oven unit (found inside the front door) and get instructions - in English - on how to operate this complicated piece of machinery. I learned that the little snowflake means "defrost" (imagine that!) and the picture that looks sort of like a biohazard symbol sandwiched between floating water and sky is actually a convection oven setting. I also downloaded an app for my phone to convert metric measurements and figured out that the cupcakes needed to be baked for 15 minutes at 180C. Another good tool  for this is The Metric Kitchen, which is helpful without being judgy about Stupid Americans and their stupid non-metric measuring system.

The cupcakes turned out delightfully, thanks to the modern conveniences of cooking with one's iPhone and iPad handy for moral support and also thanks to Betty Crocker's foolproof red velvet cupcake mix, which is readily available out here. I even found vanilla icing (NOT CREAM CHEESE) and some red goop that I thought would be easy to manipulate but ended up just splooshing all over the place for a stab at "decoration."

Behold! Success!
Side note: I screwed up one of the first cupcakes trying to delicately drizzle the red goop in a pattern and got mad and ended up turning the mess into the word "poop." The next day when the domestic help came to clean the house (I can't even talk about that right now - let's save that little guilty nugget for another post), I told her she could help herself to the cupcakes and I am 99% sure she ate the one that said "poop" on it. Hopefully she doesn't know what that means, and thank God I didn't decorate it with one of my more abrasive (and recognizable) four letter words.

The Gentleman was quite pleased with the surprise. My major project done for the day, I was rewarded with a lychee martini and sushi at So Cho and then drinks at Pearls and Caviar. Your typical Thursday night out at the Souk in Abu Dhabi.

I really, really love lychee martinis.

Pearls and Caviar with a pretty stunning view of the Grand Mosque.
Upper deck of Pearls and Caviar

Coming up: how rearranging furniture will push the cats to the brink of sanity, a fishing trip in Dubai, and dealing with being a "lady who lunches" until the work visa comes through.


Kristina said...

I miss you! I love you!!!

Anonymous said...

I am quite excited to hear your thoughts on being a lady who lunches- I hope you're enjoying yourself and not feeling too guilty with the extra time! Though I will be worried if "lady who lunches" morphs into "lady who dresses her cats for high tea."

The New Glitterati said...

Is that a thing?? Can I do that??