Monday, September 26, 2011

The Pork Room

I'll tell you what: I should complain more about food I have a hard time finding here. I wrote about Mexican food a while back and within three days of that post, I had been gifted no fewer than four cans of black beans, courtesy of two savvy friends who kept a clear eye at the Mirdif Spinney's.

These black beans have revolutionized the last two weeks of dinners at the Palmer house. Tonight, we're feasting upon them again in this recipe, accompanied by homemade cilantro-lime dressing and homemade pico de gallo.

No such revolution has taken place upon my discovery of The Pork Room, however. I finally decided to seek out this illicit space reserved for infidels at certain Spinney's locations (none in Sharjah, that I'm aware of) and Waitrose. My first experience with a pork room was at the Spinney's in Ajman about two weeks ago. There, it is sealed off by a door, and it says Pork Room: For Non-Muslims Only above the door, and to open the door, you have to press a button. It's all very clandestine and shameful. Inside, it's nothing special, but I found myself scratching my head about some of the contraband in there. The marshmallows and spam and ham/bacon (duh) I get, but sunflower seeds? Pop Tarts? I think it must have something to do with gelatin. I felt so dirty going in there that I didn't stick around to find out.

The Pork Room at Waitrose was much classier.
Gorgeous, isn't it? And not so shameful.


Again, the granola bars and refried beans are kind of a mystery to me, but whatever. I was so taken with the novelty of Pop Tarts existing in Arabia that I bought a pack (for the low, low price of $4/package!) - brown sugar & cinnamon flavor. Once the excitement wore off, I was disappointed with them. Have Pop Tarts always tasted like cloying cardboard? I ate them on a regular basis during my years in college and I never noticed that they're kind of gross.

To be thorough, I visited the pork room at the Mirdif Spinney's, and it is just as classy as the one at Waitrose (I guess the Ajman pork room is the odd one out when it comes to retail space dedicated to infidels). In fact, the Mirdif Spinney's was classy in general, period. I couldn't believe all the treasures I found on its shelves (including more black beans), and I can't believe it took me a whole year to go there. Unfortunately, I will probably try to stay away from that place for another year, lest our grocery bill quadruple. Sigh.


Tia said...

Yes, pop tarts are really that gross. Though I tend to forget that and will by a box every year or two and remember that they are gross.

I have heard that if you put them in the toaster and add butter on top they taste a little better. But I think it only applies to the brown sugar ones.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I ate pop tarts once circa 1968 and that was enough for me. Pathetic that they haven't improved in the past 40 years.

Our Best Bites has fabulous recipes!

Jessie said...

My Mexican restauranteer friend explained to me how they make refried beans, so I can say with confidence that they belong in the pork room (one of the frying processes in "re-fry" requires bacon fat. Made me love them even more. Mmmmm) (That was not sarcasm)

Liz Johnson said...

Yeah, I was going to say the same thing as Jessie - refried beans are re-fried in pig lard. Yum. This is why they are so delicious, and so terrible for you. :)

And Pop Tarts... I freaking love the frosted blueberry ones, but no others. And I am SO excited to hear that you have found black beans. Praises be!

Bridget said...

Melody, you are so thoughtful. I haven't seen masa harina here to make my own, but every once in a while there are corn tortillas at the store. I will definitely try this!

Well, I totally see now why refried beans are in the pork room.

Crys said...

I'm dying to try these myself :)

MoiraGallaga said...

Very interesting, the existence of "pork rooms" in Muslim countries. I guess it makes sense, particularly for the UAE which has a large number of expats living there. I love the way you describe it, being somewhat clandestine in its set up.


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