I tend to have an obsessive personality. If I like a shirt, I will buy half a dozen and not necessarily in different colours! If I enjoy a new dish, I will eat it again and again until I get bored with it. And if I want to taste something that is not so commonly available, I will think about it again and again until I find a way to try it.
Recently, I was invited to a feast in Al Ain, near Abu Dhabi. As is the custom here, I was relegated to the women’s quarters. I didn’t mind this. The host’s wife was gorgeous and totally charming; and I enjoyed talking to her about how she and her mother prepare various Emirati dishes. And when the time came for us to have lunch, I was thrilled to finally try camel meat cooked their way — as you know from a previous post, I have only had it minced and grilled on the street in Syria. Later, when all the male guests at the feast left, I joined the men of the house and as we talked about the feast, I realised that us women had been deprived of the camel hump. This was understandable. The choice cut is always served to the guest of honour and that day, this guest was sadly not me.
It was a blow. I had been wanting to taste camel hump ever since I got to the Emirates and I had just missed my chance. A chance that was not likely to come again so easily. To eat hump, you need to buy and cook a whole camel. Admittedly a small one, three or four months old, but still too large an animal for my little kitchenette here. Not to mention the cost at over $1000 dollars for the baby camel.
But the gods smiled upon me today and I finally got my wish. I happened to be in a catering kitchen this morning where they were preparing a baby camel (known here as h’war) for a feast. I didn’t catch the process from the beginning, just from when they spiced the meat including the hump until when they sent it away to be served at the feast. And here is what they did:
The pot is interesting because it sits on a gas fire and the lid is heated by burning charcoal. Here the chef is spreading the charcoal to distribute the heat evenly.
And below is a short clip about how I finally got to taste my first and perhaps last camel hump, and another of how they serve it (which took two days to upload and I thought the connection in Lebanon was bad), followed by pictures of how they send it away. The verdict? It was good but I cannot honestly say that I will be obsessing about it any longer.