One afternoon we visited Bait Al Safah (House of Peace) in Ras Al Hamra. This mud built home has been transformed into a museum showing traditional Omani ways of life. The women cooked on open fireplaces in the floor. They toasted and ground coffee beans ready for brewing, and made rukhal bread on huge cast iron pans. “Do you want to try?” asked the woman making the bread, as she slapped the dough onto the pan with her bare hands. I could imagine my singed finger tips and declined politely. We sat in a room which was once the library and study to enjoy the coffee, ginger tea and dates that are always served to guests.
Date groves are everywhere in Oman and every part of the date palm is used. At this Halwa shop we saw the sweet cardamom flavoured dessert being made in a copper pan set into the floor. It’s usually served on special occasions and this almond embellished batch was for a wedding.
Jars and buckets of date syrup were for sale in the Souq in Nizwa while down another walkway was the spice market, where anything from preserved lemons to pumpkin seeds and whole nutmegs was for sale. Saffron, so expensive in our supermarkets at home, was packaged in a myriad of containers of all shapes and sizes. The vendor showed us the different grades of Saffron, and explained how the quality equates to the price. Even so it was much cheaper here.
But of all the foods we ate in Oman my favourite was the rosewater milkshake at Fast Food and Juice. It was a pale pink, frothy concoction of milk, rose scented and rose flavoured – with a rose created out of ice cream floating serenely on the top!