Friday, March 30, 2007

Booty Food

Booty Food, noun, [boo-tee food]
1. Any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, and promote prolific booty expansion in the members of the Sunday Bitching Brigade (SBB).
2. Food items, high in fat and calories that have been horded and valued beyond societal norms for their American-ness, limited availability, and due to their difficult and sporadic acquisitions.
3. Examples of booty food are (but not limited to): Log Cabin pancake syrup, A&W Rootbeer, Pumpkin pie, Butterball Turkeys, any food of Mexican origin, most food of Italian origin, French bread, cheddar cheese (real stuff, not Velveeta), Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, deli meats, Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, tins of biscuits, Steak, Doritos, Chocolate chip cookie dough, Dunkin Donuts, and Eggo Waffles.
—Related forms
boo·ty·less, boo-ty-full , boo-ty-li-cious adjectives

Every Sunday, I look forward to consuming Booty Food with my friends. Readers of this blog who live in the Greater Dammam Area (ARAMCO central), Riyadh, and Jeddah are probably perplexed at the great value the SBB (Sunday Bitching Brigade) places on many of the food items listed. For you, it’s just a normal trip to the supermarket to get any one of these things and more. Either that or you can just go to one of many American chain restaurants and order some of these things. For the SBB, these things are luxuries and we’ve gone to great lengths to acquire them. Although better than in years past, Al-Hassa still lacks the variey of....well...just about everything except date palms.

Seeing as how my husband is Hasawi, it takes months of nagging and planning for him to take me to Dammam (this includes Khobar and Dharan too) as this is considered major traveling to him (1 ½ hr car trip). When there, I execute a carefully planned order of stops with military precision to provide the least amount of irritation to my travel-sensitive spouse, and yet accomplish all my goals. This plan includes a mix of supermarkets, clothing stores, Starbucks, the gorgeous Corniche, friends’ houses, and restaurants, all designed to maximize my Dammam time. All the while I have my husband, trudging behind me holding packages or a child and asking, “ma baad khalaasti (haven’t you finished yet)?”

During my supermarket trips, I refer to two lists I’ve compiled over a period of months. One is a list of foods and other items to keep my eye out for myself, and the other list is my friends’ requests. Sometimes, I will find one item in one supermarket, and a related item in another. For example, I’ll find turkey in one supermarket, and a can of cranberry sauce in another. The supermarkets don’t always stock exactly the same items all the time so if I find pumpkin pie filling for example, I’d better buy it then and there as it may not be there on my next visit. My daughters are incensed if I return from a trip to Dammam without the obligatory string cheese and Eggo’s.

Later on, back in Al-Hassa, my kitchen cabinet’s stock takes on an eclectic theme. There sits a lonely jar of salsa, waiting for its chance to be united with refried beans and tortillas upon their long-awaited discovery in a Dammam supermarket. Or, there’s the stuffing mix and cranberry sauce that have been yearning for months for my husband to agree to the purchase of a 100 riyal turkey (+$20). It took two months of shopping trips in Al-Hassa and Dammam to gather all the ingredients necessary for a proper pot of chili! We’ve even gone so far as to collect food items on our trips to the States or to request them from people sending care-packages to us. I bought up kosher onion soup mix, cream of tartar, and baby cereal on my last trip and my friend regularly has her mom send her white gravy mix. Another friend in Jubail told me of when her mom had sent her a care package containing various items and Reese’s Cup’s. The package arrived with all the items intact but alas! Only the distinct aroma of the Reese’s Cup’s remained. Apparently, they’d been "confiscated" by Saudi customs agents in a bid to keep this nation’s booty sizes in check. The valiant lads!

Every few weeks, the SSB creates a themed meeting. For example, after sporadically gathering items over the course of several months, we had Mexican day. We wantonly applied great gobs of sour cream to tacos and salaciously dipped our tortilla chips in salsa with a sense of enormous fulfillment. It was almost an X-rated scene. Only people rescued from a long stint on a desert island relish their food more than we do on these days. When November rolls around, we all have strange hankerings for turkey. Since we’re all Muslims, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. That fact doesn’t detract from the fondness we hold for the memories surrounding those holidays in the States, including the tastes and smells of that season’s food.

Possibly, it’s for the best that we don’t have regular access to some of our favorite foods. Given the freedom to regularly indulge in booty food, even our big roomy abayas couldn’t contain our huge booties, a bit too much ‘junk in the trunk’.

(No, that's not my butt in the picture above, in case any smart a**es were gonna ask. Google Image, search- "big butt")


Carol said...

Is it possible to both laugh and cry at the same time in reading your delightful post!? Oh my how I can relate to your words but also makes me appreciate being in Riyadh where fortunately more of the 'booty foods' can be easily found. But please...add good old American Smarties to your list! It's weird the cravings one can get when what one is accustomed to from the home country is no longer available!
Those graphics you posted are GRRREAT and definitely make the point!

saudi stepford wife said...

Got the notebook out and your on the list. Now you'll just have to make it down to Al-Hassa if we do ever find stash of Smarties. By the way, Smarties are my mom's favorite booty food (she's a self-proclaimed junk-food junkie). I'm sure she's empathizing with you as she reads your comment.

Sand Gets in My Eyes said...

This is one of my favorite conversation (and blog) topics! Thanks for making me feel a little less like a food-freak! lol

Even tho I have regular access to a lot more food shopping options than you due to geography, I still hoard foods when I find them. And our four kids know that they are not allowed off the tarmack without at least two pounds of red licorice when they come visit!

I'll never forget the day I called a friend at work to tell her I'd found yellow corn meal! Yippee!

Since I DO plan on joining your SBB in the near future, let me know what's on your list when we make arrangements and I'll do a little pre-SBB shopping for you!

saudi stepford wife said...

Not just any red licorice, TWIZZLERS! Strawberry, not that nasty cherry! I made such a concerted effort to hide those from my kids last summer (how much hyperactivity inducing sugar and red food dye do they contain?)

ooh, and carmel creams. yummm

...and Turtles

I think my butt just spontaneously expanded in my chair due to caloric daydreaming!

And I swear to you, at one time, corn meal was on my list till I gave up all hope!

saudi stepford wife said...

oh, and I having my mom send me a winsor pilates dvd in her next care package to prevent my becoming too booty-full

desertflower said...

Speaking of booty should have seen the response my father had when my mother told him that when she asked me if I wanted anything as they were sending a package which I reply. "Mommy please, send me some Doritos and don't forget the Reese’s!!" My mother said he laughed for a good 20 minutes over that. Of course that was a few years ago before you could find them here…. They can be found now al though not consistently.

Nzingha said...

Reeses are now available in huge boxes at Tamimis. It used to be I'd have to go to Bahrain to find them. I did recently stock up on 'soft pretzles' and 'italian ices' that I found on my last shopping trip.

Enjoying your blog btw. I never realy wanted to visit al hassa even w/ the boast of "cool caves". but you keep writing and I just may tell Mr. Man to pack us up one weekend and go.

saudi stepford wife said...

Nzingha- Be sure to see my future post "What to do in a town that doesn't have anything to do" before coming here. If you do come, I recommend renting an istiraha with a pool. They come in every price range, some with less flies and stray cats than others, and it's really a lot of outdoor fun.

We usually gather a group before we do that and everyone chips in, we BBQ, and swat mosquitos. Nice thing- the water in the pool is filled up fresh when you get there so you don't need to worry about other peoples "P" in the "*OOL".

About the Reese's... it was indeed Tamimi where I got my last Reese's fix...great minds crave alike.

Ann said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

We can get most of this stuff easily in Kuwait, but I had to laugh about the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Actually, I think I've seen them here, maybe a long time ago - but I was in the Tamimi's market in Al-Khobar a couple of months ago, and they were selling Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in those big boxes of like 24. I couldn't resist... and once my kids tried them, they didn't last long.

When we drive to the UAE, we usually stay in al-Khobar, but we pass through (well, around) Hofuf, and we stayed there once. Next time, I'll have to let you know, and maybe I can bring you something insha'allah.

FoodCritic said...

for food in jeddah, check out

Jeddah Food Online Guide

Um Abdullah said...

Om goodness,, I just laughed. The Reese's story brought back memories. My mother sent the kids those big thick tootsie rolls, one time in a care package, and they actually had the ends bitten off. They had been eating, or tasted by someone.
If you need something from MN, do not hesitate to let me know. We will be in AlHasa in a few weeks, inshallah. Would be happy to bring you any type of snacks etc you would like.
Dont be shy, ask away. Muslimas in alhasa need to stick together, hahahah.