Dubai Diaries: When food is a craving of the heart
The city may be a global culinary hotspot but the act of eating is more than just a means to satiate hunger
Back in 2017 faced with the prospect of dangling 50 metres above ground for a giddy ‘Dinner in the Sky’ experience, albeit in the early hours of the day, I didn’t hesitate. FOMO had not yet entered my lexicon then, but ‘Carpe Diem’ was a term I was most familiar with, considering it was just a week into the New Year. So there I was safely harnessed into a bucket seat and hoisted up in the air to be served a buttery croissant, sausages and creamy egg with a glass of tart OJ on the side — not the most inventive breakfast menu for sure, but at that point suffice to say none of us were there for the food. As any ‘food reviewer’ worth his Himalayan salt will tell you, it is always more than just the food isn’t it? You could be chomping on the fattest ‘everything in’ juicy burger on Kite Beach or mopping up a generous serving of olive oil infused hummus with a thick wedge of warm Kuboos at a Lebanese eatery on Jumeirah road, but it’s more often the emotions evoked that you carry around forever.
Dubai has over the years proved itself to be a foodie’s paradise in more ways than one. Where else can you feast on kebabs and Arabic fare in the middle of the desert with sand swirling around you or daintily pick on hors d’oeuvres on a yacht at the Marina or even embark on a midnight drive to satiate your craving at a popular shawarma joint down the road. Or hang off a platform hoisted up by a crane and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the desert and the city and the sea. Truth be told, even if we ate out every single day of the year, there are enough and more restaurants — long time legacy establishments or pop ups or the ones that seem to spring up overnight — to keep us engaged through our stay in this city. At the end of the day food or the act of eating is more than just satiating a craving, it is also about the memories created — the creamy risotto you ate off a wheel of cheese at the boisterous Italian brunch, the wholesome Afghani kebabs and warm roti that kept finding its way to your table at the hole-in-the-wall Al Ain eatery, the barbecue you polished off at your uncle’s garden on a balmy winter evening or the heartening thanksgiving meal lovingly prepared by a ‘foodie’ cousin.
After the meal is eaten, the plates cleared and the dishes done, your realise food is just an excuse to bring people together. Next time when you dip your ladle into a warm tureen of pumpkin soup, or gingerly smear the horseradish paste onto the sushi and gobble it up whole, remember this. Eating is more than the act of consuming food with its accompanying burst of flavours; it is also an act of quenching your heart’s cravings, and filling your self with an emotion that goes far beyond tickling your taste buds.