A healthy salad with a side of ignorance
The need for healthy food in Dubai is surpassed only by the need for knowledgeable service staff behind the counter.
February 21, 2012 3:52 by Eva Fernandes
As it is Gulf Food Week, Kipp would like to share with you a rather infuriating experience we had with food in the Gulf this week.
Eating right when in a food court in the UAE is a difficult task—which is why when I saw an impressive salad bar at Dubai Festival City, I was rather relieved. Ignoring the cloying greetings issued from staff at McDonalds’ and KFC, I marched to the massive salad bar. The bar was indeed as impressive as it looked from afar: it was home to an extensive spread of vegetables, cheeses, nuts and fruits that sit in Subway-like chilled compartments. A little confused, I looked around for instructions on how to place an order.
“How does this work?” I asked the lady behind the counter.
With one sweeping hand motion, she gestured to the colorful chopped food below and said: “You pick any 4 toppings and we will make a salad for you. If you want more toppings, we will charge you extra.”
“4 toppings? Right. So what is in the salad?” I wondered.
She was confused and asked me to repeat myself. I told her she had mentioned the four toppings would go on ‘top’ of a salad-so what is in this salad? Though I thought I was being rather clear about the whole thing, she called her colleague who asked me to repeat my query. It took some time, but this new staff quickly nodded: “I will show you the salad.”
She bent low and emerged with a massive plastic bowl filled with leafy greens. On closer inspection, it appeared to be lettuce leaves.
“Is the salad just made out of lettuce leaves?” I was incredulous.
It turned out it was. I remarked how the ‘toppings’ are not really ‘toppings’ but more like “ingredients”. My observation seemed to be lost on her—she was getting a little annoyed with my pedantic ways. And so-I quickly selected my four ‘toppings.’
“What dressing do you want with your salad?”
“What is in the Italian dressing?”
Oh boy, here we go again, I thought. It was three minutes before she had consulted with her former colleague to tell me the dressing was ‘nice’ and she wasn’t too sure what is in it.
All whining aside, I will admit my chicken, walnut, blue cheese and sun dried tomatoes with a dash of olive oil was rather good. Yet the absolute inadequacy of the staff and the misleading branding left a real sour taste in my mouth. It is a real pity, though, because Dubai, especially the food courts in its malls are in dire need of healthy alternatives to the carb-o-rific fast food joints and cafes. Breaking into the healthy food market is an excellent business opportunity—but at the same time, knowledge is power. If a health conscious person chooses to eat at your restaurant, chances are he is going to be far more eager to know what is going into his food and how it is being made. It seems a pretty obvious solution. When, oh, when will restaurants catch up?