I am one of those people who thinks about food all the time, it seems to be in my subconscious aiding every decision and I think my life is better for it. My Instagram page shamelessly posts my food experiences, and they are a reminder for me rather than the judgmental follower who rolls their eyes at yet another weird angled food shot. Food just like music, smells and books can evoke so many emotions and memories; that Greek taverna on your first holiday with the love of your life, the smell of turkey wafting on Christmas morning or knowing you will never touch another meatloaf again after the Home Ec class disaster. I have not always had a good relationship with food and I know too well that it can control your life in a negative way, but I’m a long way down the road and letting the past go and now I am happy to eat myself around the world.
Now coming from Jersey, we pride ourselves on our culinary delights and boast 3 Michelin star restaurants and some of the best sea food I’ve ever eaten. Growing up I was very lucky that my parents loved to eat out and were of the mind-set that if they wanted to eat out, then us kids came in tow. So from an extremely early age I was accustomed to the ways of the restaurant world and loved every minute of it. Now being a Jersey Bean of the 80’s I recall some of the old gems of the island; Central Park, Manhattan, Broadway (upon reflection it seems restaurateurs of the 1980’s liked the american theme!) all of which sadly left with the booming tourist industry and Bergerac in his convertible Triumph Roadster. However even after losing such icons, this didn’t stop new eateries opening up and giving islanders some incredible home-grown establishments, I still have a list of my favorites for each time back to The Rock, with no trip complete without an El Tico breakfast with the girls, moules marinière at The Boat House, fish and chips from Hectors, Dutch fries at The Splash and a night out with my bestie at Little Thai. Wow just thinking about this makes me happy I’m going back in 12 weeks and also a reminder that I need to pack my running gear, to make sure the inevitable waistline destruction doesn’t get out of control.
My heart says chocolate and wine but my jeans say for the love of god women eat a salad
Our time in Prague seemed to coincide with the city have a bit of a foodie explosion. Gone were the days when all you could get as traditional Czech fare of duck, cabbage and dumplings. Now to be fair I did consume my fair share of some rather delicious dumplings, washed down with a mighty fine glass of Czech brew but the alternatives to the local delights were fantastic. During my 4 years in Prague I consumed, the best burger I have ever eaten, the best pizza outside of Italy, the best steak and rather too frequently the best curry (note to self was it any wonder you reached your heaviest during your Euro adventure!?).
Most of my fondest memories of this life are surrounded by food; 9 hour lunches with fellow expat friends, starting with lunch and still being in the restaurant for dinner service. Walking through the snow on a Sunday morning to warm up in a one of the smallest restaurants I’ve come across to devour traditional american biscuits and sausage gravy. Entering our local curry house, being ushered to our table and not even having to order but know that our favourite dishes would be served up with a knowing smile.
Moving to Kuwait I really didn’t know what to expect from a food point of view and I’m not going to lie this was pretty high up on my list of things that had to meet my expectation. To my horror there seemed to be an endless amount of fast food, I remember driving to our temporary accommodation the night we landed and the road leading up to the apartment block was banked either side with every burger chain, fried chicken and glazed doughnut outlet you could imagine. In the light of day, I discovered there was more and quickly established after Instagram trawling (the social media of choice for everything worth knowing in Kuwait) that there are gems to be hunted out.
The vast majority of restaurants here are American chains, locally franchised and built on a huge scale. I would normally steer away from some of these after experiences in the US, however we are regulars at a couple; Cheesecake Factory and PF Chang and I think they are better than their stateside versions, the service, the freshness of the food is second to none. The downside to all this Americanization of food is that the portions sizes are enormous and you rarely even dent the full serving, leaving you becoming accustomed to asking for a doggy bag, which to a Brit seems totally wrong and a little uncouth, but hey I got over it and myself and often walk out with my foiled container.
On a serious note Kuwait was ranked 10 in the most obese nations and I suspect its to do with the prevalence of fast food and the supersize mentality. However there could also be a cultural aspect, as in the Middle East you should never have a guest leave hungry and insist they eat the last piece of the meal. The Arab way is to show generosity and if the food is plentiful, then so is their regard and respect for the guest, quite literally food is love.
Al akl ‘ala kadd el mahabeh – literally, “the food equals the affection”.
(From Food from the Arab World Marie Karam Khayat and Margaret Clark Keatinge, Khayat’s, Beirut 1959)
To me there seems to be a real effort to move away from the golden arches and there are more and more alternatives. There seems to be an influx of artisan cafes since my arrival and they maybe small and more often than not tucked away, but they are worth tracking down. Now in Kuwait I seem to have become a lady who brunches there doesn’t seem to be much of an excuse for me and my new-found friends to meet each week and devour eggs, pancakes, pastries and any other breakfast delight you can imagine.
I would like to add that these are not consumed all at the same time and are more often than not the reward for the grueling Spin or Gritt class we have just endured at the gym. Our local haunt Gia, is only a short walk and equidistant from all our homes, and quite often lures us to avocado and poached eggs, fresh juices and coffee that passes my high standards. I love this modern impeccably decorated deli/cafe, counters brimming with cous cous and quinoa salads, young Kuwaiti women with the latest fashions, fellow bloggers typing away on their Mac Book Airs and we are part of it. We could easily be in fashionable Hoxton but we sit in this corner of Kuwait proud that we have found such a secret hub for our girlie chats. Each meeting undoubtedly ends up on a discussion about food and the latest place tried and tested and recommendations are bought to the table and plans made for our next culinary get together. My excitment mounts for next week….eek.
So dear reader if you ever find yourself in Prague I can point you in the direction of the best curry you have ever eaten at The Pind. If you are walking on to the golden Jersey sands, then St Ouens bay is waiting for you and so is an amazing Jersey crab linguine at El Tico.
And if you ever find yourself landing in the desert then I have done furious research, just for you, on the best eggs Benedict in town.
People that love to eat are always the best people – Julia Child