You can get pretty much anything here – some stores even stock pork in sections for non-muslims (the local version of turkey ‘bacon’ does not appeal I must admit).
There are also a lot of western clothing shops – Next, Monsoon, Matalan etc, along with the usual assortment of techie, chemists and jewelry shops etc.
What I was completely unprepared for were the local supermarkets or hypermarkets as they are called. They are truly enormous and filled with all sorts of local and international brands.
One of our local hypermarkets, Lulu, has a huge food and outdoor section on the first floor, with household and furniture on the next floor up. Why is this relevant? I had no idea what to expect on moving here – from what sort of clothes I could buy to what food would be available in what is essentially a country in the desert.
There is a big English and American influence here – I’ve found Marmite (happy days), Vegemite (yuck, but Matthew loves it), Skippy’s peanut butter, Twinings Tea, McVities digestives, and many brands I’d forgotten about – for me a home away from home.
However, of big note are the veggie and spice sections – AWESOME. There are mounds of pulses, spices, nuts, kernels, herbs, olives and soooo many different types of dates – a pick and mix of anything you could wish for – and many items I don’t yet recognise.
So, in my first few weeks I have found Oman is the place to learn new dishes, and play with old favourites – so far I have messed about with chicken, experimented with Za’atar (its a funky middle-eastern spice mix), nibbled on cheeses with names I cannot pronounce, cooked Greek-style slow roasted goat, made a delicious buffalo goulash and created a rather unique hummus from scratch – which came out a little green, but tasted fantastic. Next I will attempt to concoct some new Indian curries.
There are also some brands I am less familiar with…
Needless to say, Matthew is feeling right at home 😉