Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mexican food

Fruit: check. Cheese: check. Meat: check. How about Mexican food in the UAE?

Well, the pickings are slim. However, Mexican food is usually conspicuously absent in the Middle East, so while I recognize that the selection is poor, this is also the most Mexican food I've ever seen in a grocery store outside the United States.

You've got your various seasoning packets, none of which I've tried, and they cost anywhere from 50 cents to $1.50 each. The real gem of this picture is in the lower right corner - do you see it? Seasoned Black Beans in a mystery microwave pouch, for $2.50. The thing about black beans is that you can't get them here. You will never see them in a can (except in their adulterated fat-free refried form) or in a bag. I bought this microwaveable pouch for the first time this week so I could report my findings (and also because I miss black beans). Verdict: they're kinda gross. I think the "Mexican-style sauce" may be the culprit. I ate a few as-is and then rinsed the sauce off the rest to repurpose in a different recipe.



Sometimes you can get tortillas at Carrefour. Not always, but sometimes. I've never tried them because I make my own at home, and the ingredients cost less than $3.50 for a pack of eight.

The great tragedy of the Mexican food section is the taco shells. They are AWFUL. Maybe they would taste OK if they were even remotely fresh, but when I've tried them (admittedly only once), they were that awkward soft-stale that cuts your mouth when you try to chew them. Shudder. We just don't eat tacos. That is how we deal.

Carrefour alternates between having whole green chilies and diced green chilies, apparently without rhyme or reason. But it always costs $1.50 or $2.00 a can. And there's the refried black beans I mentioned. It's like a slap in the face because the real thing isn't available. For the record, I have no idea why Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth is in the Mexican section. I guess it had to go somewhere.

Carrefour is bigger on taco sauce than it is on salsa per se. I tend to use them interchangeably in recipes, which is nice because if you want real salsa labeled as such:
it costs half as much again (almost two dollars for the taco sauce vs. almost five dollars for a slightly bigger jar of the salsa).

Miscellaneous canned beans. We're getting down to the dregs here. $1.25 per can.

And that's the Mexican food section at Carrefour! I took a picture of everything on offer, so you've seen it all. Needless to say, I don't make Mexican food a lot. However, I did manage to whip up these Cowboy Quesadillas the other night using the aforementioned rejected black beans as a special treat.
And they were goooood. I have a feeling black beans will be finding their way into my suitcase when we go to the US next summer.

9 comments:

Crys said...

Oh those shells are horrible even when they are fresh :) But those tacos you made look yummy! I can just imagine the custom guy going through your bag...um miss did you realize you have thirty pounds of black beans spilling out of your bag :) OH Bridget your life makes me happy!

Jen said...

I just had an idea.

Several years ago Jen was dismayed that the local produce aisle was missing tomatillos. They were easy to get in Utah, but somehow not a regular attendee here. So when she asked the stocker fellow about where they were in the store, he told her he could order some for her, even though they weren't a normally stocked item. Customer service? Absolutely.

So before you worry too much about smuggling the black beans across the globe, perhaps asking your local carrefour to add them to the inventory would be in order. If their suppliers carry the items, I'm sure they'd be happy to take your money for them. Consider it your way of giving feedback about current customer demand.

~Joe.

karina said...

Every trip abroad (after my first, anyway) has included trying to stuff as many dried black beans in my suitcase as I can without going over the weight limit. I figure that's how many souvenirs I am allowed to bring home.

Liz Johnson said...

Um, this is disconcerting. I don't know that I can move to Dubai anymore. I am sort of (ok, very) addicted to black beans. Do they even sell the dry ones?!

Bridget said...

Liz, no, not even the dry ones!

Joe, I would think that would be an option. A friend of ours single-handedly got the Mirdif Spinney's to carry root beer. However, the black beans seem to be absent from the entire Middle East and plenty of people here complain about it. I can't imagine I would be the first person to request them. But maybe I'll do it anyway.

Liz Johnson said...

If it were America, you could potentially sue Carrefour for discrimination against BLACK beans, and you'd probably get punitive damages on account of the racist nature of the claim. Sadly (in this case, anyways), I'm not sure the UAE has such a litigious society.

Sherwood family said...

I was a black-bean stuffer in Egypt, too. Imagine my dismay when one time they lost a box with thirty pounds of black beans. Last summer the lard crossed international boundaries, too. I didn't even try finding it in Cairo.

Anonymous said...

Canned black beans are usually available at Spinney's Uptown MIrdiff and at Safestway on SZ Road. I think the carry the Progresso and/or Bush's brands.

Melody said...

Your most recent post reminded me that I hadn't left my two cents on this one yet. Right after I read this post, I was looking through a cookbook and saw pictures showing how to make your own hard taco shells. I looked it up on the internet (since I don't have a scanner) so I could send you the link and you could try it out, if you so desire.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/hard-taco-shells/detail.aspx

I actually like the idea of one of the comments on the recipe, to spray cooking oil on the tortilla and then drape them over your oven rack and bake for a few minutes.

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