Friday, November 25, 2011

This Little Piggy Went to Market

I hate Tuesdays.  In our world, Tuesday is Hump Day, as the work week is Sunday through Thursday.  Tuesdays have been hard to get through for us since moving to Doha.  Every Tuesday, the kids are dismissed from school at precisely 12:30, instead of the usual 3:00 pm.  Oh yes, half days.  It conjures up images of children romping through the compound, blissfully relieved of their arduous schedule, an afternoon off at their disposal.  However, on Tuesdays, they don't get a lunch break, and by the time they get home from school at about 1:15, they are cranky, tired, and ravenous.  Every Tuesday, I try to circumvent this as best I can by making sure that they get a really good breakfast—usually eggs, toast, sometimes some beef bacon on the side.  Yes, beef bacon.  After a year of living in Doha, turkey bacon has worn out its welcome in this house, and at the very least, beef comes from a mammal, so bears some resemblance to the country's forbidden meat, pork.

Tuesday this week started like any other:  My alarm went off at 6:15.  I dragged myself out of bed and brushed my teeth.  Threw a sweater over my pajamas and walked out to the office where my iPhone sat on the desk.  I picked it up and browsed through the emails before waking the kids up.  I quickly logged onto Facebook just to see how everyone's day went back home and saw that my friend Inge, who moved to Houston a couple of weeks ago, had posted on my wall just minutes before.

"Donna...are you eating pork right now??"

Ha ha, very funny.  "No, are you??"

She cyber-laughed, and asked, hadn't I heard?  She had discovered, through the magic of Facebook, that pork was now being sold at QDC (aka The Only Liquor Store in the Country), starting yesterday.

I beg your pardon?

My two favourite animals:
pork chops and bacon
Surely she had to be mistaken.  Talk of the possibility of pork being sold in this country has been going on for like...ever.  Why hadn't there been a swirl of rumours leading up to this?  Why hadn't someone told me?  And, why, for the love of God, wasn't I sitting in a lawn chair outside QDC right at that moment waiting for it to open, with a camping stove, a dozen eggs, and a cast iron frying pan?

Sounds silly, I know, but I actually felt giddy.  To be denied a main staple of our Canadian diet for the last year, and then to have it suddenly reintroduced, without warning, left me, well, elated.  I think I wept a little.  Terrible Tuesday just got a whole lot better, and it wasn't even 6:30 am.

I glided around the kitchen making breakfast, humming a tune from Babe, with the kids looking at me quizzically.  This was not Evil Tuesday Morning Mom.  This was Bacon-Crazed Mary Poppins/Fairy Godmother Mom.

If only I could put into words how un-Doha-like this is.  After you’ve lived here for awhile, you get used to nothing getting done.  Promises are made, deadlines pass, and hopes are dashed.  Inshallah, and all that.  I can only imagine that for those pork lovers who have lived here for years, the shock of the news must have nearly put them into cardiac arrest.  And it turns out that it was actually news, not just rumours.  When I got to the bus stop, my friend Heather told me that she had been at QDC the day before, and had seen with her very own eyes the emptied-out former Cold Beer room, resplendent in its new-found purpose, with shiny freezers and a permanent “Pork Products” sign etched on the window.  Who needs cold beer when you can have a bacon double cheeseburger?

But it gets better.  We have it on good authority that in the next week, Parma ham and salami will be here, and in another month, pork chops.  And there's even the possibility of ham by Christmas.  I must be dreaming. Somebody pinch me.

The only wrinkle is that you need a QDC permit to enter the store, whether to buy alcohol or pork.  Dan has one; I never bothered.  But I will persevere.  Now that I'll be buying "groceries" from QDC, I think it warrants me having one.  In the meantime, I've got a pound of bacon in my freezer (from an undisclosed source to whom I am eternally grateful), awaiting the day when the five of us are here for breakfast.  Or lunch, for BLTs.  Or bacon-wrapped whatevers for appetizers.  And then we'll drizzle bacon grease on the light bulbs to fill the house with the scent of progress.  Ah, pork.  The one I love.


  1. Another fellow Canadian who's been here 12 years and couldn't believe they actually had pork at the QDC. Well, for the first time I now have my QDC shopping card and after a visit earlier in the week have had my first roast ham in Doha. From what I hear shipments come on Tuesdays, so get there early for the best pickings!

  2. From another fellow Canadian, it was hard to believe that pork was finally available in QDC. Having lived here 12 years, I now have my first QDC shopping card and having visited earlier in the week, just finished my first roast ham in Qatar. From what I hear shipments come on Tuesdays, so get there early for the best picks!

    1. Twelve years! Now that's a long time to wait for a BLT. And being Canadian, you'll know that the stuff they try to pass off as back bacon at QDC is not even close to the real thing. In a desperate measure at Christmas, I took two whole packages of the it, put it in a roasting pan in one big block, and baked it with honey mustard. Not fabulous, but good enough to satisfy our craving. Glad to hear that we can now get the real thing!