Food Obsession: childishly simple, and joyful, masoub and areeka
When bananas grow soft and erupt into patches of black over their yellow fibrous skins, I swoop in to their rescue. I wait for bananas to grow ripe, even overripe, much to the disgust of family members who silently endure whiffs of sickly sweet banana as I peel the mushy fruit with gusto. It’s not just ripe bananas – I’ve always preferred soft-yielding fruit over their hard, crunchy brethren, be it moist dates, pulpy blueberries bursting under a baked berry crumble, or velvet-skinned chicos (sapodillas) whose flesh effortlessly melts on your tongue against the wish of every apple-advocating -dentist.
I recently stumbled upon two Saudi Arabian breakfast concoctions that made me reconnect with my love for ripe bananas and dates. Both dishes were childishly simple, and childishly comforting. Nestled in our mini porcelain saucepan of masoub was a caramel-coloured banana and bread mash, spotted with canned cream and honey, and hemmed in by a moat of melted ghee. The banana bread muddle was a taste of childhood nostalgia, of school-day mornings when Mum would transform bananas, milk and sugar into sweet morning fuel that would keep me fluttering around class until lunchtime.
Areeka, on the other hand, replaced bananas with a ground-up mash of dates and two kinds of bread – traditional Arabic khubz and a crispy filo-textured feteer. I spooned up the dense date-bread mixture, strategically rubbing against a splodge of cream and a swathe of processed cheese strands – capital culinary crime for any self-respecting gourmand, but in this specific date-dosed case, the processed cheese played a fitting sour twang to the fruity medley.
Two thoughts nibbled on my mind as I drove back after breakfast, my eyes watering with the sleepy intensity of a double carb overdose. First, that two rich breakfast dishes late on a workday morning was not one of my wisest ideas yet. And second, that when the next batch of squishy banana rejects are flung my way, I might attempt to sneak them back on to our family breakfast table.
• Arva Ahmed blogs about hidden food gems in Old Dubai at www.iliveinafryingpan.com