Wednesday, September 07, 2011


We've done fruit prices and cheese prices. Anyone interested in meat prices in the UAE?

Before I begin, I should mention that you're not going to see any organic or grass-fed meats popping up in this post, because to my knowledge, they do not exist here. Neither will you see any pork products, for obvious reasons. You can get pork products in certain hidden sections of certain grocery stores, but I've never been to one yet so I don't know about their prices. I think I'll seek one out someday and do a post about "the pork room."

Onward. Let's start with the most egregious offender: lunchmeat. Would you believe me if I told you that 8 oz. of standard, unexciting, run-of-the-mill lunchmeat costs $7.80 (28 dhs)? Well, take a look:
Would you believe me if I told you that we never eat lunchmeat sandwiches here? It's true. I once bought some turkey bologna (just because dangit, sometimes you need a nice sandwich) for $5.40 (20 dhs). Maybe I will do that once a year. In the meantime, sometimes we eat bread and cheese with sliced cucumber to take the place of meat. It tastes pretty good.

Here are some other varieties of processed meat. I've never touched anything in this specific picture, but every once in a while beef Bar-S hot dogs will show up and I buy them for our camping trips or grilling outside. I looked closely at this picture and saw that the price of the chicken franks is listed as 13 dhs ($3.50). I think this is a mistake, because a pack of Bar-S brand hot dogs usually costs $6.70 (25 dhs). But they are soooo goooood and what is camping without hot dogs?

Not pictured are the Turkish Sujuk sausages, which I am slowly working up the courage to try. Every couple of weeks, I will buy a Polska Kielbasa. They're a bit pricey at $7.30 (27 dhs) but a little goes a long way and I find that I can use it in place of bacon in recipes. Speaking of bacon, you can get a package of turkey or beef bacon for six or seven dollars. I tried the turkey bacon once and it was pretty good, but that may be because I haven't had real bacon in over a year.

Moving on to chicken. Here is the lovely poultry section at Carrefour. You can get a box of lots of whole chickens, or buy whole chickens individually, for around $3 to $5 each (they are quite small). I did that once when we first moved here and they're not quite as cleaned up as the ones you buy in the US. It was a bit grisly and I could hardly eat the meal I made with it after spending too much time with the carcass while preparing it. You can also get quail quite easily here. All the meat is halal, of course, which means that it spoils very quickly and doesn't freeze well.

I mostly patronize the semi-prepared chicken section, where you can get a kilo of chicken breasts for - well, lots of different prices. It depends on the brand and whether it's tenderized or not. I used to buy Al Khazna, at about $6/lb (24 dhs/500g). But I find that the chicken is very finicky here. It was so hard to cook it in a way that didn't render it completely tough and endlessly chewy. I switched to buying the tenderized stuff (for about $4/lb) and it is delicious.

Missing from this picture is the usual offering of stomach, tongue, and miscellaneous offal. You're welcome.

Ah, the beef/lamb section. I had a hard time taking pictures of this area because the butchers were always present at the counters. I missed the section where whole carcasses are hanging up in a refrigerated locker, sorry.

You can find a seemingly random selection of cuts and preparations but what is always constant is that the meat comes from New Zealand, Australia, or Brazil. It is very good, and no matter what the cut (unless there is super fancy stuff out there that I haven't noticed), beef generally runs between $4 - $7/lb. I don't really do lamb, so I don't know how much that costs, but it is quite popular here and there is plenty of selection on offer.

FISH. I had to hang around this area forever to get a picture because there always seemed to be someone in the way or aware of me trying to take a picture. I happen to hate fish so you're on your own for figuring out whether $5/lb is expensive for fresh shrimp.

Ugh, shudder. I don't like the smell of seafood either, so it is a chore to walk near this area. Unfortunately, it's right next to the produce so I have to shop for fruits and vegetables while the smell of fish wafts over me. Even Miriam and Magdalena say, "oh no, the stinky fish!" every time we go near it.

As for my own particular purchases of the day, I brought home a pound  (almost half a kilo) of beef for stew, at $4.90/lb. I buy some form of beef probably twice a month - every other week.

I buy a pound (half a kilo) of chicken every week. Since any meat I buy has to be used so soon, and since I go shopping only once a week, our meat meals come early in the week and peter out to being vegetarian for the rest of the time.

Whew! Enough about meat. Let's do something light like vegetables next week.


Crys said...

I think this is why I got so skinny in the middle east...we don't eat that much meat here, but the prices/fact that stuff spoiled so fast made me eat even less! I love these post. Can't wait for the pork room!

Liz Johnson said...

Oh wow. Yeah, I have a feeling that we would eat meat way less out there. Here - I just got chicken (on sale, admittedly) for $1.39/lb. It's usually closer to $2/lb. Beef is usually no cheaper than $3/lb. on sale, and I have no idea about lamb either. And even with those prices, I get all huffy about how expensive meat is and we don't eat it as much as we used to.

I would love to see the secret pork room some day. Hahahahaha.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

What? No Hebrew National kosher hot dogs?? Haha.

And thanks for not showing the sheep carcasses. Saw enough of those suspended (with their innards hanging out) in the windows of unrefrigerated butcher shops in other M.E. countries.

We rarely do lunchmeat anymore. It is drastically overpriced (up to $8-9 / lb) if you go for the less processed stuff. When I cook a turkey or a roast I save slices for sandwiches. Another option is to use turkey or chicken to make chicken salad (w/ celery, onions, mayo).


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