As Friday looks back over 20 years, Arva Ahmed reflects on her most nostalgic foods of the UAE
Say Oman chips and Arva Ahmed immediately tastes nostalgia.
This one is for the old-timers. For the Dubai children who talk of Al Reef, Al Mallah and Automatic like old high school friends. For those who soared on banana swings and rode mighty waves at Al Nasr. For those who tightened their skating laces at Galleria. For those who fell flat in the rink but rose like Mario on his second life.
For those whose social lives blossomed in Ghurair, City Centre and BurJuman, in the downtime between Pac-Man.
This one is for the Dubai children of the ’80s and ’90s. And for their parents who could silence their tantrums with a bag of latticed Safari Chips rather than an iPhone. This one is for those whose school lives taught them the value of being first. First in line at the cafeteria before Caesers pizza ran out. For those connoisseurs who understood the irrefutable appeal of a palm-sized, baby-soft wheel of dough with three dabs of sweet tomato sauce and a glob of lowmoisture mozzarella cheese.
For those who upheld the time-tested tradition of pairing that Dh1 pizza with an orange-flavoured Areej.
This one is for those who scavenged for every fil that could be tossed in their direction, to be bartered for wafer and caramel Lion Bars. Thank you to the generous parents who intentionally dropped coins our way. Sorry to the parents who unintentionally dropped coins and never knew where they went.
This one is for those who lusted after the forest-wrapped 50-fil Safari Bar. For those who rejoiced in having a patch of milky chew or Fruittella lovingly plastered against an upper molar. For those who graduated from a parakeet-green pack of Polo to the more suave, clover green box of chocolate-rippled After Eight. For those who lived the high life with Toblerone, one chocolate pyramid at a time. For those who judiciously saved their pocket money for the aural gratification of snapping a Kit Kat bar. For those whose piggy banks had run dry and had to compromise with Pik-One.
This one is for those who flaunted their gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins like millionaires. This one is for the unplugged children who were years away from experiencing the filters of Instagram, whose coloured filters in life were the ones they wore on their tongues, after time well spent with a Gobstopper or with grape and strawberry pellets that rained out of a Nerds box. For the talented whose ego was not powered by ‘likes,’ but by the size of the bubble they could puff with a Hubba Bubba or pack of Big Babol gum. For the champions who wore the tattoos in Fusen gum squares like hardearned medals from Al Madina around the corner. For the dreamers who hallucinated of their fantasy toy in the milky walls of a Kinder egg. For their annoying siblings who managed to get that toy in their Kinder egg every single time.
This one is for those who conformed to the classroom rule of distributing Quality Street chocolates for their birthday. For their mothers who would store those tins, and those of sugar-studded Danish Biscuits, as storage for combs and baubles.
This one is for those wheelers and dealers who convinced their mothers to invest in thimble-sized jelly cups that could be slurped collectively at break time. This one is for those who bulldozed through a bag of Square Chips on the ride home from school. For those who fluttered their Mr Krisps chip-ringed fingers out of the window, then gnawed off each crunchy ring at a time. For those who were convinced, contrary to everything learned during dictation, that the correct spelling was cheez because the Cheez Balls tin said so.
For those who understood that the best part of eating Quavers, Pofak or tomatoflavoured Chipsticks was the glory in licking
This one is for those who understood the BEST PART of eating Chipsticks was the GLORY in licking powdered fingertips after. For those who have an UNBREAKABLE BOND with Chips Oman
chip-powdered fingertips after. For those who still have a bond with Chips Oman. This one’s for those whose memory gates are flung open if they hear the words: Chupa Chups, Kopiko, Curly Wurlys, Koukou Roukou and Igloo. For those who now know that Santa doesn’t exist, but calories do.
For those who have grown up to live by the weighing scale, but will never forget that carefree time when every day was cheat day.
This one is for those whose DNA will never permit them to say ‘no’ to a Caesers pizza – even if they are now adults. And even if it’s not a scheduled cheat day. This one is for old-timers.
Arva Ahmed offers guided tours revealing Dubai’s culinary hideouts (fryingpanadventures.com).
A group of children enjoying the spoils of their grocery store snack shopping in Hatta in 1994