Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's Drier Than i Thought Around Here...

Before we packed our bags i did LOTS of research on Dubai to help prepare myself and my family for the adventure ahead.  i read about the quirks and limitations we would encounter once we took up residence.  i knew my possessions were "subject to inspection and confiscation" while in customs to insure i didn't try to sneak in any unwelcome contraband.  Most items on the banned list really were not a problem for us to go without.  Things like "erotic statues" and "fire arms" are not going to be missed around our house.  i also knew i wouldn't be able to just "pick up" a bottle of wine at my local store even if only to make our favorite spaghetti sauce.  Our customs paperwork clearly said, "No alcohol content of any kind are allowed in."  (Even now i am afraid my super cute kitchen chalkboard lined with wine corks from memorable dinners may have been "confiscated."  i am still holding out hope it ended up in the wrong box and is sitting in storage rather than rotting away in the local UAE dumpster.)


The thing is, you CAN buy alcohol around here under certain conditions.  All the local 5 star hotels will sell it within their restaurants (as long as the hours you order it do not fall within in a Muslim holy day.)  The other option is to apply for a liquor license once you receive your residency visa so that you can actually buy a bottle of wine to enjoy at home.  This license allows you to enter into one of the very few discreetly unmarked buildings and purchase various wines and liquors to take home.  No mention of alcohol is listed on the store front.  In fact for weeks i drove by a "liquor store" in Dubai assuming it was a little flower shop from all the pretty flowers affixed to the windows.  There is a hefty 30% tax and a limit on the amount you can purchase.  There is also an absolutely NO TOLERANCE law on drinking and driving.  One glass of wine will incapacitate you from driving over the next 12 hours.  The smell of alcohol on your breath while behind the wheel or a bottle of unopened wine in your trunk without a liquor license can land you straight in jail, without passing go. 


We knew these things so none of it was a surprise.  The surprise did occur when i started restocking my kitchen pantry with the basic staples.  Remember this post where i couldn't even make cookies taste decent?!  Well, part of that would be because vanilla extract has ALCOHOL IN IT which would therefore render me incapable of buying it!!  After looking in 8 different stores, i surrendered and bought this weird little tub of powdered vanilla thinking regular vanilla extract must just be something the UAE doesn't ship in.



i tell Chris about how i think it's odd i can't find real vanilla anywhere.  He says nonchalantly, "Well, probably because it has alcohol in it."  WHAT?!?  Seriously!!  How much of that stuff would you have to drink to feel the effects?  After asking a fellow local mamas, they confirm that is indeed the reason there is no vanilla extract to be found along with other items like red wine vinegar.  After attempting the powder in our first batch of cookies the entire family, including indiscriminate spoon licking children, decide NO vanilla is better than the chemical powdery stuff.  We will make due.  Really, it isn't causing us extreme distress but cookies, pancakes, banana bread, muffins just aren't the same without it.


Yesterday, my amazing fellow expat friend from Michigan brought me something...!



She had her sister-in-law from England sneak bring it in for me during their trip here.  i think she is fabulous for many reasons but her bootlegging skills are now my favorite.  Now when i open my cabinet i pretty much hear a chorus singing.  Even though i did nothing on my own, besides complain once to get it, it feels like some weird well earned badge of honor to have vanilla in my pantry.  For the first time ever i noticed the alcohol content on the label ~ 41%.  Who knew?


We just ate our first batch of PERFECT chocolate chip cookies!








6 comments:

Les said...

I am now looking forward to "The rest of the story", as our friend, Paul Harvey used to say!!!!
Who would have thought. But I know that somewhere rules are rules, huh??
Have a wonderful day, would you believe that it is now raining again, and we expected it tomorrow. Love,
Chris home Fri or Sat??

Noelle said...

Yay!!!! Enjoy!!!! :)

Lovella said...

Make sure it's a full hours after eating your yummy cookies before you let anyone smell your breath!

Betty said...

Who knew that such a little bottle could bring such joy & excitement. And...make another batch of perfect cookies!

Kathy said...

So, if you get your liquor license, can you buy vanilla?

Oh, Tami, I love your adventures! I should make a book about them. Scratch that. YOU should make a book about them!

Natalie said...

Don't forget Barracuda resort. Last I heard they deliver, if you have a contact, so you don't even need to risk driving it through the desert yourself. But it is a lovely drive...