Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to make a sandwich in Dhaka

Purchase all required ingredients at the neighborhood mega grocery store that’s open 24-hours and take home and put together….NOT!!!

This is what was involved in putting together this simple bologna and cheese sandwich I had for lunch today. The bread was purchased at the Westin Hotel here in Dhaka, as their head chef imports EVERYTHING he cooks with from Australia. I mean bananas and flour, many, many things you can purchase here. They also bake their own bread with this imported Australian flour, butter, eggs, etc. The bread is expensive but like nothing you could ever buy in Dhaka (and now you know why!) The bread is not always available, so you will to be lucky to get a loaf! The bologna was purchased from a place commonly known to expats and Bangladeshi alike as “The German Butcher”. This is the one of the ONLY places in all of Dhaka where you can buy bacon, pork bologna and other pork products. He also carries fresh (i.e. butchered acceptable to western standards and not on the side of the road somewhere!) beef and chicken. Don’t shop here at the last minute, because he is closed for sieste or around lunchtime 12-3PM. The cheese was purchased at a small grocery store named “Lavender” that has some of the items we are used to at home (Hershey’s chocolate syrup, corn flakes, Colby cheese, etc). The hot mustard was purchased at yet another shop in Dhaka. This shop is called Value Plus officially, but the “Australian shop” by expats because all the items are imported from Australia. I can buy granola bars, packets of macaroni and cheese, cake mixes, dried apricots, and even Cadbury caramello bars here! The lettuce was purchased in one of the open air vegetable and fruit markets. The price was stated, bargaining took place and a final price was settled on. The lettuce then travelled by rickshaw through the streets of Dhaka to arrive at our apartment, where it was washed in filtered water and then treated with bleach water and dried. Last but certainly not least, is the fact that you cannot have a sandwich without some type of accompanying “chip”. We can actually buy Pringles here as well as Tostitos and other brands. The Pringles are, strangely enough, sold around the corner from our house at a FRUIT stand! The prices are a little high, but convenience costs money! So, let’s review how easy it is to make a bologna and cheese sandwich in Dhaka:

BREAD: purchased at The Westin Hotel
BOLOGNA: purchased at “The German Butcher”
CHEESE: purchased at grocery store named “Lavender”
MUSTARD: purchased at the “Australian shop”
LETTUCE: purchased at a local market
CHIPS: purchased at a fruit stand

So, basically with all of the shops you would have to visit and the fact that there is no traffic in Dhaka, only GRIDLOCK, it could realistically take you an entire day to put this sandwich together! Think about this the next time you have your ‘simple’ deli sandwich for lunch!


Cold Spaghetti said...

What, no tomato?? :-)

This was great.

Aunt Jeanie said...

I have some catching up to do. I have been meaning to write to you ever since reading your story regarding the making of a sandwich. Only a person who has lived overseas could really and truely appreciate how much truth there is to this!! My story involved shopping for a chicken which BTW turned out to be a LIVE chicken and the young Arab boy had to wring its neck and pluck the feathers off of it at which time he told me to cover my eyes (little did he know I was cleaning chickens before he was born!). And another episode involved buying fish. Most women I know here in the states would not even go close to the "fish market" where we bought fish because of the smell! And then the day that I bought a fish from an Arab off of a rickety pickup truck - but it was a very fresh fish! My only trouble there was it was a huge fish and I did not know how to tell him I didn't want the entire fish. Thus I ended up with a very large fish which I shared with many neighbors! It was a hamour which is similar to a flounder - delicious!! And buying bread - you bought it fresh out of the oven - clay oven and the bread was so hot that when they would toss it at you off of the pizza-like paddle, you would burn your fingers trying to hold on it it.

OHHHHHH, the memories!!

snoolan said...

Hi guys,
where are you now (Jul 2008). We have just lobbed into Dhaka (and points beyond) for 6 months and want to know the address of the Aussie shop.

the lopsided said...

hey, can you tell me how/where to find the German Butcher?
I'm looking for pork products in Dhaka.
thanks, you can catch me at tritanopiac-at-gmail.com

Connie said...

Just arrived in Dhaka 10 days ago. Deperate need for crispy bacon. Can anyone tell me where the German Butcher is located? Can't last 3 years without a BLT! Any other foody places would be appreciated. I am at connieinguyana@yahoo.ca
Thanks all!!

Kazi K said...

Please give me the address for the "German Butcher", Will appreciate it alot thanks, mail me at kazikmahmood@gmail.com

caratage said...

The German Butcher is located on Road 62, Gulshan. This is north of Gulshan-2 circle, just below Gulshan Ladies Park. I don't know the number of the house, but it has a white-blue gate and is a little tucked away from the street.

I want to know that Aussie Shop address too! Anyone?