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22

Giant babaganoush sparks a near-riot

More than 7,000 servings of the world's biggest babaganoush was doled out ...

More than 7,000 servings of the world's biggest babaganoush was doled out yesterday to riotous and hungry crowds at the Al Mazaya Centre. On several occasions, tension became so fraught that the serving tables nearly took a tumble in the clamour for food.

The chefs sweated and spooned for all they were worth, but the cries for "more" remained unabated as toddlers and grannies alike attempted to dodge the trampling feet.

The whopping traditional Arabic dish, which was served in generous dollops alongside thousands of fresh flat breads, began life three days ago in the kitchens of seven leading hotels.

Chefs from exclusive institutions, including Emirates Abela, the Dubai World Trade Centre, Hotel Inter-Continental, J.W. Marriott, Crowne Plaza and the Dubai Marine Beach Resort and Spa, had the monstrous task of cooking, peeling, scooping and chilling the flesh of 2,200 kilos of egg-plants. Other ingredients included 42 kilos of pepper, 28 kilos of spring onion, 14 kilos of parsley, 20 kilos of mashed garlic, 42 litres of lemon juice, 50 litres of olive oil and 2.8 kilos of salt.

Uwe Micheel, Executive Chef of the Hotel Inter-Continental Dubai and President of the Emirates Culinary Guild, said, "Seven hotels divided the work between them and prepared all the ingredients of the dish. We then brought the whole lot here and whipped it together in about 20 minutes.

"The egg plants all had to be scorch-roasted until they are black on the outside. Then they are cooled very quickly, have their innards scooped out and the seeds removed. We had to have an enormous amount of them because up to 70 per cent of the plant is lost in the preparation.

"Once all this was done, the pulp had to be chilled and stored in temperatures below four degrees Celsius to prevent any germs from forming." Reactions from the crowds were extremely favourable, although some had a distinct sense of deja vu.

Aliya Ahmed, age 17 and from Dubai, said: "I always attend these record attempts because they are so much fun. So far I've eaten some of the world's biggest cake, the biggest spaghetti bowl, the biggest biryani and now babaganoush. I'm going to go for the world record for the person who's eaten the most food world records!"

Mohammed Abdullah, 23, from Sharjah, was not quite such an old hand. "This is the first time I've done this and it's pretty impressive. The babaganoush is good - although it doesn't actually taste the way my mother makes it, which is more like hummos made with eggplant."

Satish Menon, 28, said the dish brought back romantic memories. "The last time I tasted babaganoush like this was two years ago while on a cruise down the Nile on my honeymoon. Just the taste really takes me back - although my wife and I didn't eat this much!"

Awadh Al Seghayer, Manager of Heritage Sites and Events, and Chairman of the Food Surprises Committee for the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, who organised the feast, said: "Through these mega food events, we hope to further enhance Dubai's image as a food capital of the Arab world. The success of this event confirms the importance of food as a major attraction."

Meanwhile, pizza lovers with an insatiable appetite can go on an eating spree today by taking part in the Pizza Eating Competition at the Hotel Inter-Continental Dubai. The event, organised the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, is being held at the La Moda Restaurant.

Those wishing to gorge themselves are required to bring along a sponsor who is free to contribute any amount to charity. There is no entrance fee. Awadh Al Seghayer, Manager of Heritage Sites and Events and Chairman of Food Surprises Committee for the Department, said, "The best part about this competition is that the entire proceeds generated from the event will be donated to charity and the only qualification a person needs to become a contestant is a massive appetite."

gulf-news.com