I don’t order take away very often but when I do, I have two great options: delicious Vietnamese from Cay Tre or sensational Gujarati specialities from Mrs Patel, my lovely newsagent. And now I have a third option although it is very far from London, the woman in the picture above who sells her home-cooked food from a stall in souk al-Wakif in Doha. Her smartly presented selection includes balaleet, h’riss, ‘assida and mashbuss to name a few and she seems to be very popular amongst the locals as most of the people I have watched buying from her are Qataris like the lovely couple in the picture trying to make up their mind about what to get for their dinner.
I saw a wonderful film a few years back called The Story of a Weeping Camel, which was all about a baby camel rejected by his mother. And this morning I was reminded of it when I visited the live animal market in Doha where I saw a baby camel that had just been orphaned. As you can see from the short clip I took, he was crying for his dead mother. His keeper was doing his best to console him giving him his finger to suck on but it didn’t help much. Even the camel in the cage next to the baby’s enclosure was feeling his pain and was also crying. Perhaps they all cry.
I must have been born under a lucky star, at least as far as friendship is concerned. I have friends everywhere, and where I don’t, I have friends who are happy to share their friends with me. This is what happened when I went to China. I had introductions to the most delightful people who have now become friends. Not only that, but Mei, my wonderful friend who founded Wild China, offered me a great three-day foodie tour of Beijing which made all the difference to our stay there. We also struck it lucky with our guide Steven, who couldn’t have been more charming. He took us everywhere from the serene Temple of Heaven to the spectacular Forbidden City to the fabulous Great Wall, and in between we ate at delicious restaurants, visited the most amazing markets and learned how to stir-fry and make dumplings and noodles. And I discovered a new favourite street food, jianbing which is the Chinese equivalent of both the French crepe and the Emirati regag, depending on who is making them.
As promised, here is the clip I took of my black chicken: how the vendor plucked it live from the cage, showed it to us to make sure it was the one we wanted; and how he killed it, plucked it in an extraordinary machine then gutted it. Sadly, the place where he slit its throat was too dark and you can’t really see the action, nor can you see the poor bird thrashing its last breath in the plastic drum where he also gassed it!