Happy New Year - Yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun - Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
Kul 'am wa antum bikhair, etc.
The new year is a great time to think about the past as well as the future. I'm thinking back to my days in Abu Dhabi and the simple pleasure of bread, fresh from the tandoori oven, only 10 fils per loaf.
(Fils were like pennies, without consideration to the actual exchange value. 10 fils=0.026 cents at the time. Today, I could sell the coins on eBay for 75 cents, apparently. Where did I hide all my UAE coins?)
Anyhoo. Back to our story. At the end of our street in Abu Dhabi, there was a Pakistani baker's shop. It wasn't a true bakery. It was more like a guy with an oven in the spare closet of a bigger shop. Literally. The owner of the shop facing the park at the front of the building probably sublet the space to the baker.
The baker generally sold his bread to taxi drivers and the occasional house maid, so 10 fils was an appropriate price for their meager wages. For me, 10 fils was almost free. Priceless was more like it.
We'd stop in on the way home from work. Most of our neighbors drove right on past, preferring to shop at Spinneys or the Co-operative Society for their more expensive bread. How they could resist the aroma was (and still is) a mystery to me. Pulling apart a fluffy, hot loaf, fresh out of the tandoor was the highlight of my day.
Nowadays, I'd be lucky to find that aroma anywhere. I have to go clear uptown to Nova's Bakery for brick oven baked bread - a good 40 minutes for me.
Maybe I should get myself a tandoor. These days people are building all kinds of stuff in their backyard kitchens. Pizza oven or clay tandoor, the only problem I'd have is keeping the neighbors at bay once they smell what's cooking. Just think of all the things I could make with it. - Food Network's Stephen Raichlen gave me some good ideas.
Chicken tikka, anyone?