Sunday, June 26, 2011

Red, Red, Red, Wine...

When I first moved to Dubai the novelties were endless.  From camel crossing signs, to bad English translations, local fashions and weird foods, the fun was never ending!  I'll admit that over time however, we became pretty used to all the cultural oddities in Dubai.  When we have visitors they remind me of all the things that have become 'normal' to me that stand out as very different to them.

Well it turns out I can still be surprised, even by the small stuff.  Last week Matt and I were grocery shopping in order to prepare for a dinner party we were hosting for our friends Malcolm and Meredith and one of the recipes called for red wine vinegar.  We have a pantry full of balsamic vinegar but no red wine vinegar to be found so this is the first time I've had to purchase this in Dubai.

I asked a shop employee where I could find the vinegar and he replied 'at the aisle with the bunnies in the front.'  Of course, I thought this sounded extremely odd.  I figured something was lost in translation and commenced my own search for the vinegar.  I finally found the aisle and as I approached I noted something very odd about the labels.  Red grape vinegar?  Hmm.  It appears that due to cultural sensitivities surrounding alcohol, all red wine vinegar (however devoid of actual wine) is now known to us as red grape vinegar.  Weird!

Weirder still - as I exited the aisle from the opposite direction I encountered a huge display.  What was it?  A stand for the new Playboy Bunny fragrance...seriously.  So yes, the aisle with the 'bunnies' in the front indeed.  As usual I'm bewildered as ever as to where the line is drawn in this culture - the word 'wine' can't be printed on labels but promoting the Playboy brand is ok?  You have now entered the twilight zone.

1 comment:

jimdad said...

Yes, cultural sensitivity certainly varies around the world. For example, try keeping a straight face the next time you go into this store and ask for this vinegar by name...

"Where do you keep YaMama?