A pink taxi

A pink taxi

September 4, 2010

Local Produce

When I food shop in Dubai, I fill my cart with pomegranates from Iran, Alfonsine mangoes from India and pineapples from the Philippines. I buy cucumbers from Lebanon or organically grown Emirati ones. I buy labneh, haloum cheese, a salty yogurt drink we  call dough. We used to buy Lebanese and Afghan bread and Basmati rice in kilos before we started workout regiments.

At Spinneys or Choitrams we skip the very expensive imported cheeses, the bluberries and rasberries, the peaches and nectarines that make it to our super market produce section. They have traveled too far and are the export produce, which are not always the best.

When I come to Switzerland, I skip the 5 swiss franc single pomegranate or the 7 swiss franc single mango, for the same reasons. I prefer my food not to carry too much mileage with it!

Instead, while in Geneva, I chose to eat their specialties. We indulge in a grand variety of very good breads, setting aside any protein diets I may have undertaken in Dubai. My kids tell the man at the cafe on Sundays that we don't have croissants and pain au chocolat in Dubai. They are mistaken. We just don't eat them there. Somehow the pastries there will never be formulated to taste like Swiss ones.

In Dubai, instead of croissants, my children savour  manaeesh (thyme baked pizzas) as breakfast treats and they have the best cupcakes, which have been baked by our closest friends.

When and if I shop at Manor, the rather fancy super market (although not the fanciest), I select the buffala mozarella or the burratta mozarella (which my father introduced me to in San Remo), succulently soft and tangy mozarellas, that float in buckets of their own water. I also buy fresh carpaccio of beef or dried beef swiss style for our sandwiches. I buy the more gourmet bottled variety of tuna rather than the canned kind. We also select a variety of flavored swiss yogurts and cottage cheese. If we listen closely we can almost hear the cows in the distance!

My favorite shopping experience, probably because I am my father's daughter,  remains the market days, on saturday and wednesday mornings. Imagine a market of fruit, vegetables and flowers practically at your doorstep! We run for the cherries in June and July and buy them by the kilos, to take as snack for the park. We select the orange-red abricots and ask for crunchy peaches and nectarines, the size of tennis balls! Come August, the cherries are still available but very expensive. Now we buy 250g at a time, especially for my husband who hasn't had them all summer! I also have a variety of figs to choose from, purple, black, blue or green! Raspberries and blueberries make the finest desserts or toppings on yogurt and cereal!

Today, I wore a wool sweater to the market. As I was ordering my favorite Alpine fruit, I remembered that autumn was approaching and we will return to Dubai, for the purchase and enjoyment of tropical fruit.


  1. Reading your entry during Ramadan made me salivate! Your description of fresh local produce made my my mouth water! My tummy is grumbling.... I totally agree with the philosophy of eating fresh local produce in country. It tastes so much better!

  2. Statistically,men hate shopping of any sort,worse of all food shopping.I am one of the minority who love shopping fruits and vegetables,and even supermarket shopping!
    I started going to shop with our driver in Beirut souks at the age of six,and never stopped.In the early Dubai days,I used to frequent the vegetable,meat and fish markets.Piles of produce,colorful and inviting would give me relaxation and satisfaction.Later I graduated into shopping at Union Coop and Choithram,since the birds left the nest,and our needs became small.
    Summers in France gave me delightful experience shopping in the open marches Menton and Nice;but nothing compares to the Mercato of San Remo!When members of the family disperse to do clothes shopping in the Italian boutiques,or my wife goes bargain hunting in the Tuesday&Saturday open market,I delve into the main food market where I buy the best fruits,vegetables and cheese.I have my special supplier of free range eggs,wild mushroom "cep",Parmigiano Reggiano,dried tomatoes and other Italian delicacies of high quality and competitive prices.My favorite butcher is Bernar in the old Menton market,who sends me the best poultry,turkey,veal and merges you can ever find.
    As the Ete 2010 comes to a close,we drove to the beautiful town of Antibe this Sunday morning,and fell on a lovely vibrant Sunday open market!I forced myself not to indulge in my favorite habit,but left with colorful memories that will last me through next summer!