A different food landscape
Miriam mentioned the other day that I don't bake as much as I used to in Sharjah, and I realized in the moment that I responded to her that it was because the things I baked in Sharjah from scratch are available to buy in stores here.
Cinnamon rolls. Pie crusts (different kinds, but still). Allllllll the breads, including zumfertigbacken (finish baking at home). Frozen pizzas! Can you imagine? To make a pizza in Sharjah, I had to first make the dough, then make the sauce, then hunt down the mozarella at like six different stores, and forget about pepperoni because ain't nobody got ten dollars to spend on that at Spinney's. Here, our good friend Dr. Oetker is just hanging out in the freezer case with like 10 different varieties of decent frozen pizza.
In Sharjah, I used to bake bread all the time. We had plenty of delicious varieties of pita bread available at the grocery store, which I loved and bought all the time and still think of fondly, but sometimes a proper loaf of whole wheat bread was needed. We made our own oreos and garlic bread seasoning and salad dressing and caramel syrup and tortillas and sometimes even our own ice cream.
If I made some of these things from scratch because they weren't available in stores, I made others because the quality of frozen food in the UAE was so poor. It was nobody's fault, I suppose - frozen food being shipped and loaded and unloaded in 40C+ temps is always going to thaw and re-freeze at least a little bit...and at least a few times over.
I feel like maybe I should be sad that I don't make as much food from scratch anymore. And I am, a little bit. But life is busier these days and I am grateful for a wider selection of food that somebody else has painstainkingly mixed (probably not even by hand, like I did in Sharjah) and kneaded and let rise and baked to perfection. And it is a miracle every day to me that I can peruse the extensive freezer aisles at Prisma and think, "I can buy that bag of mixed veggies and not have to worry that it is more freezer burn than vegetables." It's a great feeling.