For the most part, I really enjoyed the food in Kuwait, particularly at the hotel. I fell sufficiently in love, I pretty much decided to have the same thing each night for dinner. I started off with the most artistically done chicken Caesar salad I've ever seen. They placed strips of meat on top of it to form apparently a crude version of the symbol for Allah. In the picture here, one strip of meat is missing. The second day it wasn't quite as picturesque as the first, but I didn't have my camera the first day.
I followed that up with their meat sampler. Chicken kebab (pretty good), shish kebab, kafta kebab, and lamb chop (standard lamb chop = yum). I asked what the difference was between the shish kebab and the kafta, since both are made of lamb. They only explained that that the shish was the short pieces and the kafta was the long one. My taste buds told me more. The kafta was a lamb sausage heavily spiced with onions and garlic, making a very hearty, flavorful dish (though since it's one long, thin, round dark brown thing, it would lend itself easily to some crude humor). The shish pieces had more secretive herbs and spices, but a denser, less-processed mouthfeel. It's the difference between a steak and hamburger in texture.
The last night I just had shish kebab (all of these complete with blackened peppers, tomato, onion, etc.) but a sampler platter with the hotel cous-cous and Arabian appetizers. They had a parsley and tomato salad that you season with lemon. It was strong. I enjoyed the first several bites, but it was easy to have too much. They served a meaty spring roll and some other meat-in-a-wrapper bites that were quite enjoyable. There was another kind of salad but the dressing was really not to my style.
Normally I wouldn't have had all my dinners at the hotel restaurant - the organizers planned big, fancy dinners at various places in fancy dress, but I slept through them all thanks to jet lag. Given that I really enjoyed the hotel meal, I didn't mind.
Breakfast was a standard expansive buffet. They do some very nice chicken sausages that were quite flavorful and suited the eggs. The surprise food was a grilled cheese called hammoula. It's squeaky. They grilled it with tomatoes and layed them out in layers. It's like mozarella, but with a bit more kick. Their yogurt is closer to ours than to Germany's (which is runnier). I prefered their smooth and soothing mango juice to their tangy and tart orange juice. (I mention this only because it is strange - I prefer orange to mango 9 days out of 10.)
Lunch at the Arab Organization building (see next post) promised more than I felt it delivered. They had the same massive buffet spread out each day and by the last day I finally found a set of foods I enjoyed by sticking heavily to the salads and finding Arab chicken nuggets. Even though they served several foods that I had just eaten the night before at the hotel, they just weren't as good.
Now you shouldn't have any trouble identifying the shrimp, the grapes, or the vegetables. The meat in front is beef. The white round thing on the left are decorative mashed potatoes (individual ice scoops of potato molded to look swirly), the chicken kebab is hiding behind it ... and what IS that green thing there at the top of my plate? Cones of green sat on top of a green gloppy pudding. I took one bite and rejected it with haste. There were also some meat cones somewhere I didn't dare try after that. The dessert table featured much chocolate, but I kept myself admirably to my New Year's Resolution and largely avoided the table except for a little sugared caffeine.
Of course, there was no pork anywhere around. The thing that took some getting used to was dropping my defenses. When someone at a fancy establishment starts pushing a drink in my hand, I instinctively worry that it's alcoholic. Alcohol is highly illegal in Kuwait, though, so I needn't have worried. I convinced myself of that after a couple days.