Ambling through traditional food markets at a leisurely pace is a favourite travel pastime. In Dubai, you do it out of necessity. The covered souk provides some shelter from the sun but not from the sweltering heat that inevitably slows you down.
Dubai’s fruit and vegetable market is located in Deira adjacent to the Fish Souk and a short stroll away from the glitz of the Gold Souk. Rows and colour reel you in as you amble past fresh produce grown locally or imported from neighbouring countries.
Watermelons occupy a substantial section of the market. This thirst-quenching fruit is very popular in hot regions of the Middle East and reminds me of the street vendors wheeling their carts piled with watermelons in Syria.
Locals go on about their daily business while we, as foreign tourists, attract a few curious but welcoming looks.
We spot the Dates Section with a mouth-watering range of fresh dates from this region. Dates, or tomoor in Arabic, feature prominently in this part of the world and are often served in welcome, as they do at the lobby of Burj Al Arab hotel.
The seller takes us through the different types: Mabroom (long, thin, medium brown), Sagai (short, light-coloured, with an amber top), Sukkary (small, pale rounder in shape), Safawi (dark, long, thin, wrinkly) then offers us a taste.
These dates are unlike any I have eaten elsewhere. The flesh is soft, almost melting on contact with the mouth and releasing a nectar-like sweetness. The semi-ripe varieties are lighter in colour with a slightly rougher texture but are equally sweet.
With such an extensive range on offer, it is best not to make a choice. We walk away with one kilo of assorted dates, all for a little under $10.
Sights and smells of traditional markets often evoke a curiosity about the shopping and eating habits of the locals. While supermarkets in Dubai offers a glimpse into shopping habits, a visit to the food souk afford an invaluable insight into the local stomach.
Visiting Dubai? Don’t miss our Top 10 Things in To in Dubai.
This article is posted on Gourmantic.com. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2014