February 25, 2011 Leave a comment
During the last 2 years I have spent some time in the Middle-east, travelling around a bit and enjoying the scenery, culture and especially the food. With this in mind I went to a certain Middle-eastern restaurant in my native city (I will not name this restaurant) for what promised to be a genuine Middle-eastern meal. I was really looking forward to this – the establishment apparently had a good reputation.
The meal started well. We ordered hommous and tabouleh along with some Arabic bread for dipping. Alongside this was a pleasant cool drink, quite necessary on this humid and hot evening. My wife and I chatted as we contentedly on the food before us. I was now really looking forward to my spicy fish dish.
And then the main dish arrived – plonked onto to the table by the chef or one of his assistants. I stared at it in awe, even wonder. I was, in fact, wondering where the fish was. I had been expecting fish cooked to tenderness and perhaps marinated in some regional herbs and spices, but I was not sure what I was looking at, or where my fish was. Just as I was about to call the waitress over to ask this question, it became clear to me that my fish was lying somewhere beneath an expanse of grossly creamy sauce that dribbled down its flanks like leachate coming of a rubbish tip, its ends just peeping out.
I was unaware that this sort of sauce was used in traditional cooking; I associated it more with dodgy pub meals where meat is covered in such stuff to disguise its inferior quality. I am in fact certain that this was not traditional at all. I scraped off the offensive sauce and found a reasonably well cooked piece of fish beneath – the chef was obviously from the How to Fuck Up a Perfectly Good Piece of Fish school of cooking.
To round off the experience the plate had a salad consisting of limp lettuce leaves and barely ripe tomatoes drizzled with some sort of Italian dressing, and totally unnecessary serving of chips (are these really traditional in the middle east?). I had already had a whole heap of bread, so why the chips? I ended up leaving the chips and salad, and only tasting a small part of the vandalised fish.
This was certainly a memorable meal, and it made me very grumpy. Very grumpy indeed. So much so that I had to consume a whole bottle of red wine to rid myself of the taste.