Monthly Archives: May 2015

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”



There are a number of exciting food items to try every day, if you are the adventurous type. Some of these delicious items you have already seen here, unfamiliar fish along with fruit and vegetables that get you wondering which part, exactly, should be eaten or thrown away. With the summer-time heat blazing away and the inside walls of the villa radiating heat like a tandoori oven, energy levels sap and there is not much to do other than to meddle with eatables that are often strange.

Custard Apple

Custard Apple

This little beauty is a ‘Custard Apple’ however, it neither resembles custard nor does it look anything like an apple. It does have the taste of both when you eat the soft, white fleshy part and spit out the black pip but it is a subtle taste and it could easily be mistaken for wallpaper paste. It is said to have healing properties for certain diseases, it’s expensive and fun to try in a messy sort of finger-food way.

One of the great additions to our range of electrical items is a juicer. When we find we are not quite sure what to do with our fruit and veg, we blitz it all and drink the juice. It is a messy business to prepare, involves a fair bit of cleaning up afterwards and produces a frothy liquid that can be difficult to swallow but we are told it is good for us and who are we to buck the trend. Oranges are always readily available so they are a regular item in the smashing, slicing, dicing , blitzing game that is our juicer.



A word of warning! Juicers are fine for immediate consumption. The juice will NOT keep. It immediately begins to separate into froth at the top and clearer juice at the bottom and even though it is chilled and kept in a glass container, the taste will quickly mar and a certain bitterness will set in. It is pointless keeping it in plastic containers as the deterioration is even quicker. Had we known this, we would have gone for the more expensive ‘PRESS’ system, shunning the centrifugal job we have now. Pressed fruit and veg will keep a day or so in the fridge so you can enjoy that healthy drink in the mornings without the work to prepare it. Unfortunately, we can’t be bothered with it all that fuss in the morning so it is a weekend fiasco for us.

Having spent a lifetime thinking that dates only came in a long, thin wooden box with ‘EAT ME’ labelled on the front, I for one was surprised to learn that dates are not only a Christmas delicacy but an all year staple food item in these parts. The varieties are plentiful with many unpronounceable names. They are stuffed with nuts or fruit, covered in chocolate or sprinkled with herbs and spices. You can even pick them from the tree and eat them fresh, which is very often done and encouraged as a way to feed the poor. There are specific roadside trees planted exactly for the purpose of subsidising the needy in terms of food. Why give them money when you can plant their food for them. Brilliant! One of the best varieties are called Khallus (sic) and covered in cardamom – they are a real treat. For so many years these things were despised but now they are revered but too often the cause of a runny bottom due to over indulgence. There’s always a drawback!



They may not look too appetising but by goodness they are sweet (with a hint of cardamom in this instance).

That’s it for today, because it’s eight-thirty in the morning and already 42 degrees C. outside and too hot to venture further than the front door – from the land of the pomegranate where they grow on tress in the mountains and can be bought for less than loose change; the secret to getting the lush red seeds out without having to eat the bitter pith is finally revealed. No need for a pin and patience. With this method you can shovel the juicy nutlets into your mouth by the spoonful – or stick them in your juicer for some interesting sound effects!

easy when you know how!

Slice into quarters and separate the peel and inner pith from the juicy red seeds in a bowl  UNDER WATER. Keep it under the water’s surface whilst working and this prevents any squirting, splashing, staining red juice on your best pinny. The seeds sink and the pith floats. AMAZING! Skim off the pith then rinse the seeds whilst gently rubbing between the hands to separate any stubborn pith and ENJOY! I recommend the juicer again as the seeds can be a bit chewy and, after all, it is only the juice that we are interested in; right? Don’t suffer the expense of the commercial ‘Pommejuice’. Make your own with no added chemicals. As you can see, there are some cheeky Lychees here just waiting to be peeled. Oh, the anticipation!

Live lobsters are readily available so having mastered the art of crab cooking (see previous posts) I thought it was time to despatch one of these sea crustaceans and advance my knowledge of seafood preparation and cooking. Rude not to in this land of plenty. There is a plethora of squid and cuttle fish here too but I really do have to draw the line somewhere, at least for the moment.

Hoping to keep it all down…

Ramadam approaches fast!


“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.”


It is so good to be back but, then again, we haven’t really been anywhere. The odd day out, the local hotel/resort, new and old shopping malls, all the usual, mundane matters of life, bog-standard everyday activities I suppose. Oh! And work of course. Every so often, sometimes, just once in a lifetime, an opportunity comes along and it is so darn tempting that you already know that if you don’t jump at the chance then regret may follow you all your days. On the other hand, there may be even more regret in taking the opportunity. With this conundrum in mind, full consideration is now being given to a most fascinating, new career opportunity. Oh yes, it is absolutely real and genuine and just there for the taking. The pay is immaterial but the kudos, being the centre of attention down the pub, the stories you could tell your mates and the photos you could show the grand-kiddies. Well, what say you..?






May 21, 2015

Muscat 40 °C

Saudi advertises for swordsmen as execution rate soars






Riyadh –

Saudi Arabia advertised vacancies for eight executioners Tuesday after beheading nearly as many people since the start of the year as it did in the whole of 2014.

The civil service ministry said that no qualifications were necessary and that applicants would be exempted from the usual entrance exams.

It said that as well as beheadings, the successful candidates would be expected to carry out amputations ordered by the courts.

Amputation of one or both hands is a routine penalty for theft. Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death.

Most executions are carried out by beheading, but a few are carried out by firing squad, stoning or crucifixion.

All are carried out in public and video footage sometimes appears on the Internet despite a ban on filming.

In January, gruesome footage was posted of a Myanmarese woman protesting her innocence before being beheaded by a swordsman on a public street in Mecca.

Ignoring her screams, the white-robed executioner forces her to lie down on the ground, near a pedestrian crossing, then severs her head with a curved sword. The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said that Layla bint Abdul Mutaleb Bassim had been sentenced to death for killing her husband’s six year old daughter.

The vacancies were advertised on the ministry’s website in the ‘religious jobs’ section.

Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 87 people, according to an AFP tally, ranking it third in the world for use of the death penalty.

Already this year, it has put 85 people to death in what human rights group Amnesty International has described as a ‘macabre spike’.

On Tuesday, a convicted serial rapist of young girls was beheaded in Riyadh, SPA reported.

The Interior Ministry says the death penalty is an important deterrent. But on a visit to Riyadh this month, French President Francois Hollande said capital punishment ‘should be banned’.



Now, where’s that CV and covering letter?