Ray Addison’s real life
Our new columnist takes a foray into Dubai’s amateur food scene
“What you’re smelling now is my very own mix of vinegar and grapefruit,” he said, prying open the grubby Tupperware box. “It’s been in my apartment marinating for four weeks, so it can really soak in all those flavours.”
I nodded slowly, a tight smile fixed on my face as I desperately tried to think of a way to escape this lunatic. “I have five different varieties here for you to try,” he continued, “so I hope you’ve brought your appetite. It’s so nice to finally meet someone who shares my love of food.”
The bad man was about to hurt me, but it was totally my own fault. Stuck in a voiceover booth on a week-long project with the dullest soundman on earth, I’d finally found something that we could talk about. I should have suspected my showing polite interest in his meatcuring hobby would result in the terrible situation I now found myself in – a marathon tasting session with recipes dreamed up by a culinary criminal.
I blamed myself, but I also blamed television. Since the first cooking show launched in 1946 ( Elsie Presents
James Beard in“I Love to Eat”), a billion dollar industry has grown up around convincing the public that they should experiment with, and even sell, their own food. In some cases, the results are amazing. But for every millions-making Reggae Reggae Sauce are ten deep fried Mars Bars and a Baby Gaga ice cream made with human breast milk.
“Here, taste this!” The soundman grabbed a piece of meat and offered it to me with a wide smile that reminded me of a demented cat, mewing hideously as it displayed the carcass of its latest victim. Right now it was a toss-up on what I’d like to eat least – a mangled mouse or this stinking strip of sirloin. Reluctantly, I took the ‘food’ and pressed it to my clenched lips, making a “mmmm, mmmm” sound like a kidnap victim trying to please his captor.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo. A few years earlier I’d been trapped in a kitchen with a raw food fanatic and, strictly speaking, I should have learned my lesson. “Ovens are an outdated tradition,” he had told me. “Heat is an unnecessary evil.” I’d nodded and looked for the door.
From pretending to enjoy raw spaghetti Bolognaise to tasting my first and last lime avocado tart, my morals and my taste buds were thoroughly compromised that night. ‘The problem is I’m just too nice,’ I’d thought as I finally escaped. You see, I really hadn’t wanted to hurt the well-meaning raw food monster, despite the damage he had done to my insides. Apparently, I was now in a similar dilemma.
The soundman was now leaning in close, examining my full plate with a look of disappointment. “Don’t you like it?” he frowned. “You said you did.”
This is your moment, I thought. Time to save yourself from having to eat the rest. And I would have done, but as I pursed my lips to speak, I lost my nerve entirely. “They’re amazing, but you shouldn’t be wasting them on me,” I smiled. “They’re too special. You should be selling this stuff…”
“THIS WAS A TASTING SESSION WITH RECIPES DREAMED UP BY A CULINARY CRIMINAL”