Our epicurean adventure into the Middle East ended as spectacularly as it began, but not at all in a good way. (No, the Golden Arch Steak House was not the culprit–we did not eat there.)

“Qatari Cuisine” does not really exist on its own; the cuisine draws from across the Middle East, with small variations here and there. We set our dining expectations accordingly for this trip.
At one place we snacked on Halloumi, the fried cheese, with Z’aatar bread and the ubiquitous olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
On another occasion we stopped for a Mezze snack of hummus, fattoush, cucumbers, tomatoes and pita. And exceptional mint lemonade. You’re getting the idea of the cuisine variation by now, I hope?
Dinner was something on the grill, most typically Kebap, with hummus and pita on the side.
No alcohol, of course, but Coke products and Happy Pepsi were abundant.
Breakfast at our hotel was by far the dining highlight in Doha. Emirati Balaleet, Foul Moudammas, Cheese and Salad for me…
…and Tony’s favorite, the Western breakfast of an omelette and hash brown.
On the grounds of the art museum there was an international market offering a variety of clothing, household goods, and foods of the countries that comprise most of Doha’s service industry staff: Indian, Nepalese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and so forth, along with strange offerings of ex-pat foods.

 

So when and how did I fall to food poisoning (we suspect)?  Whenever possible, I request one of the special meals when flying; the menu is usually more interesting than the “chicken or pasta” options. On our return flight I requested “Vegetarian,” the primary reason being that airplane breakfasts are generally something sweet and unsubstantial, whereas the vegetarian option is almost always steamed vegetables and rice, a far more palatable way for me to start my day.

Indeed, my special breakfast meal from Doha to Amman was veggies and rice, and it tasted fine. During our short layover I began to feel, well, not so great. Once on board the plane, the next three hours and change were spent either curled up in a corner seat in the back row (thankfully the flight was not full), or in the lavatory that the Royal Jordanian crew had thoughtfully sequestered for me. The crew was extraordinarily kind and helpful throughout my ordeal; still, I hope I never again get to be one of those passengers who doesn’t have to return my seat to the upright position for landing.

Once on the ground, I put on my best fake smile at Immigration and then collapsed in the back of the car for the drive home. And here I thought I wasn’t going to have a culinary adventure!