The one where I cook locust for dinner

a Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) in a b...

Dinner’s ready! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh. My. God. I just served a locust with our roast chicken.

Those of you who are regular readers will know that nature and me are not on the best of terms. There have been camel spiders, queen cockroaches, and giant moths in abundance, all of it unwanted and all of it leaving me emotionally the worse for wear. But right up there on the list of ‘lasting memories of living in Dubai that I would rather not have’, has to be tonight, finding a chuffing cooked locust in my dinner.

Let’s dial back a bit. The supermarket have been stocking kale of late, which may sound like a normal everyday occurrence to those living back in the west, but to us out in the desert, a green vegetable that isn’t broccoli or cabbage has been a long time coming. So when I saw it on the shelf this morning, I decided a bunch of kale would make the perfect accompaniment to our Sunday roast.

I grabbed the best looking of the bunch, popped it in a bag, and there it remained until this evening when I took it out of the fridge to chop up for dinner. Lazy cow that I am, I figured the boiling water would probably wash the leaves better than chucking it under the cold tap ever could, so I took the bunch, sliced it off the stems (and possibly a leg or two), gathered it up in my BARE HANDS and threw it in the pot.

Ten minutes later (and a quick taste test to make sure it was cooked…oh I’m so glad I did that) and voila! Beautiful green kale. I carved the chicken, placed the roast potatoes, stuffing and carrots on the plates, and proceeded to serve up the kale. Reaching the bottom of the pan, what do you know, but gathered on my fork next to the last of the leaves was a three inch long locust, boiled and perfectly preserved, ready and waiting to garnish the meal.

A locust. A friggin’ LOCUST. As my husband commented, lucky he was there to witness it this time or he’d never have believed the size of it, or indeed, that it was there at all. Needless to say dinner was a slightly less pleasurable experience than I had planned, as I gagged on my carrots and stared at the green veg portion-sized gap on my plate, imagining what might have been had the revolting creature not sunk to the bottom of the pan and instead been dished out onto a plate. It was one of the most horrific moments of my culinary life, as I retraced my steps and visualised over and over again, the awful moment when we nearly had biblical plague pest for dinner.

I’d like to point out to anyone that I’ve entertained at home in the past present or future, that I usually wash my food. It was a mere moment of madness that made me skip the process this time around, call it karma if you will that it just happened to be the time a giant insect was nested inside to reveal my slack housewifery. My mother will be delighted to hear I will be washing my vegetables meticulously from now on. And I will not be buying kale again this side of repatriation. I bet I put a fair few of you off it too.

Food glorious food

I ┬álove food. The only reason I endure going to the gym three times a week (OK, mostly I only make it twice. Or once. Or not at all on busy weeks) is that I can justifiably stuff my fact for 8 weeks a year when we leave Dubai and travel back for the summer. (We’ll save discussing what happens in Dubai the other 44 weeks of the year for another time…) Anyway, for me, one of the things that I really look forward to about going home is all the yummy food I’ve missed the rest of the year – stuff I just can’t get in Dubai. And as it’s just under a week until I get on a plane out of here (HOOOOOOOORAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY!) I am already salivating in anticipation of a Waitrose shopping trip. Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 things I am looking forward to eating when I get home:

Fish and chips, a popular take-away food of th...

Fish and chips and a muddy estuary: you can’t get better than that. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Chicken with skin that actually goes crispy

2. Really, really good pork sausages that go sticky in the pan

3. Mashed potatoes that don’t just consist of lumps of starch amongst a watery gloop

4. Fresh salad

5. Big ripe beef tomatoes that taste of something akin to a tomato. Served sliced with a beautiful red onion and lashings of oil & vinegar, and a french stick for dunking.

6. Fish and chips from the chippie not some posh pub grub wannabe nonsense

7. Lush wholemeal/seedy/brown sliced bread that doesn’t resemble particle board

8. Asparagus that doesn’t take a chainsaw to cut through.

9. A chinese takeout with prawn toast, seaweed, duck pancakes, crispy chilli beef and vegetable spring rolls, all of which arrive actually crispy. (Dunno what you’re all having)

10. A picnic. With booze and friends involved. And pork pies.

Ahhh, England. It’s what maxi dresses were invented for.