Ask Ali: Camel is like a cross between lamb and beef
Dear Ali: I’ve heard that Emiratis eat camel meat. I want to try it, but I can’t find it in grocery stores. How does it taste? SW, Dubai
Dear SW: While it might sound exotic, camel meat is our national food and it’s popular in the whole Gulf. You’re right, it’s not available in every grocery store. We usually get it from butchers’ shops that specialise in selling camel meat, or directly from farms.
Camel tastes delicious. It’s more tender when the camel is slaughtered at a young age and drier when the camel is older. Some say it tastes like a cross between lamb and beef, but the taste will also depend on which cut of the camel meat is eaten – the fatty hump or other parts.
Also, have you tried camel milk? It’s much easier to find as it’s available in many grocery stores. Some shops even sell camel-milk ice cream, chocolate and milkshakes. It’s healthy, as it contains less cholesterol and more beneficial minerals than ordinary cow’s milk.
Dear Ali: I want to meet the parents of my fiancé who is Emirati, but he hasn’t offered me the chance yet. Is there any way I can do it myself? Is it OK if I just call them or go and visit them on my own? VK, Brazil
Dear VK: First of all, congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Don’t forget to invite me.
I believe that not only in the UAE but also in the whole world, when a couple decides to get married, meeting the parents is one of the most important steps. However, the ways we do such things here might be different from your home country.
Family is very important to us and always remains one of our priorities. We consider meeting the parents to be the most important step when we’re planning to get married.
It’s not a secret that families often have the final say on whether a marriage will go ahead or not. That’s why your fiancé is taking so much care and not rushing it. This has to be well prepared.
I wouldn’t recommend making phone calls or visiting on your own, as it might be misunderstood. Take more time to build that trust and understanding.
Ask your fiancé about his plans. How is he going to introduce you and when? Maybe there are certain expectations from his family’s side – only he knows how to please his family members to get their approval of his choice and their blessing for a wedding.
One handy hint to remember: when you meet his family, and his mother approaches you and she says she will get something from the kitchen, make sure you offer to help and go with her – don’t just sit and say: “Yes, a cup of tea, please.”
Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question.
Updated: March 19, 2015 04:00 AM