I feel like it’s time for a random expat public service announcement about food, because, well, I like food and happen to be thinking about it.
I’ve mentioned it before, but it is just so darned important that I’m going to repeat it. Crème Fraiche Epaisse – for the non-French speaking types (like me), is sour cream, or maybe a thick sour cream. Whatever. It’s sour cream. If you do not like sour cream, or live in the US where there are whole dairy aisles devoted to this essential delight, then this is meaningless to you, but for those who love/need it, this is vital information!
Kiri – a local variety of cream cheese. It’s pretty good, albeit a bit softer than brands I am used to. Good info to have – you’d believe me if you were to compare the prices of the import stuff to the kiri brand! Kids love it too.
Himbeer – German for raspberry, when strawberry preserves will just not do.
Smart chips and Salsa – we do not eat a lot of chips as snack food, we’re popcorn people, but sometimes we have a craving for them. We’ve tried some of the Smart brand tortilla type chips – no plain ones, like Tostitos, but flavored, nacho cheese or salsa, like Doritos. They are light, crisp, and have no additives or preservatives. The salsa we tried had a very good flavor as well. This is a new find for us, so we’re still forming an opinion, but so far we like it.
One of my favorite local brands – Nabil Food Products . As much as I prefer to cook from scratch, sometimes it is very handy to have ‘ready to go’ foods in the freezer. BUT, there is no reason why these convenience foods have to be full of junk. Here are a few of the Nabil products that we’ve tried.
beef meatballs – beef meat, onion salt, black pepper
Yep, that’s it. No filler, no unpronounceable chemical things. They do not have much spice… salt, pepper, onion… but I make a simple tomato or bbq sauce and the kids LOVE them.
chicken fillet – chicken fillet, wheat flour, breadcrumbs, corn starch, corn oil, salt
They have other chicken products, like nuggets (which look like processed/pressed nuggets like you’d find at McD’s or anywhere…), but the fillet (and the spicy fillet) is our favorite. It is simply a nice chunk of very good chicken breast meat, lightly breaded. We heat it in the oven. It does not taste or feel greasy, and the meat is moist and tender.
cheese sambousik – halloumi cheese from fresh milk, food starter culture, wheat flour, salt
I admit, I had to look up the food starter culture, but it seems that is what turns the milk to cheese.
beef sambousik – minced beef, onion, wheat flour, black pepper, sugar, salt and water.
Both variety of sambousik require deep frying, which I despise in general, but we decided to try these appetizers… food wrapped in bread is always a big hit. Fried food can be tasty, and a recent article on the CNN website debunked the “Fried foods are always fatty” myth (with an explanation of how frying works, and that proper frying techniques aren’t as bad we think. A very interesting article, btw…), but I hate the smell and mess of hot oil. It keeps our consumption of home fried foods to a bare minimum – I might fry once every 2-3 months. The verdict, both were good. Cheese was the best, especially a big hit with the kids.
We have also tried their chicken tandoori, which are boneless, skinless pieces (pieces, not processed and pressed chunks) of chicken, marinated in tandoori spices, prepared by baking. Oddly enough, the kids thought it was spicy, while Brad and I thought it was terribly bland. It’s worth recommending for the quality meat – it was tender and juicy and it baked well according to the instructions. You’d just have to discover if the spices were to your liking or not.
Basically, the chicken fillets and meatballs have become permanent residents of my freezer – great to have on hand when I need something fast. They are consistently yummy, and do not give me that ‘omigawd, I am feeding my kids junk!’ guilty feeling. The other stuff, is not quite our type of food, but the quality is good enough to tempt me to try a few other Nabil meats.
I found this Expo advert:
“Since 1945, we at Al Nabil Co. for Food Products are specialized in manufacturing a wide range of chilled cold cuts and frozen food including (beef, lamb, chicken, fish, vegetarian and pastry) for the catering and retail market sector. Recently we started to produce different kind of western desserts such as muffin, English cake & ready meals (Heat & Eat). All our products are Halal and manufactured in accordance to the international standards and specifications, Al Nabil Company has acquired different of international certificates for its products such as quality management system (ISO 9001: 2000), food safety system (ISO 22000:2005), European Food Safety Inspection Service (EFSIS) and Jordan quality mark (JQM).