Food Forever Experience

Abu Dhabi

The Food Forever Experience Abu Dhabi took us from the chef’s table to the seed bank and many places in between, as we watched chefs transform the weird and wonderful into the extraordinary.

Featuring some of the region’s most talented chefs and regionally important foods such as the deliciously sweet and soft date, camel milk and much more, the Experience gave participants the opportunity to enjoy first-hand the taste of diverse ingredients from the region and better understand their importance in our food future.

Meet the Chefs

The Ingredients

  • Al Aryoun

    Linked with rainy, stormy winter days, the ancient al aryoun mushroom typically appears after a heavy rainstorm. Though small, with most mushrooms not growing taller than 15 cm,  the al aryoun is a favorite in Gulf cuisine. High in protein and packed with nutty flavor, it can be found in popular local rice dishes such as Kabsa, whether grilled, fried, or raw.


    Image Credit: Bryant Olsen

  • Al Fendal Sweet Potato

    Known locally as “al fendal,” sweet potatoes have a rich history in the Emirates. Largely cultivated in the northern areas of the country, Emirati sweet potatoes come in red and white varieties and can be found in fruit and vegetable markets all over the UAE. This local sweet potato varietal, adapted over time to the UAE’s unique environment, is only a piece of the natural diversity in sweet potatoes, the world’s seventh most important food crop.

  • Bladder Dock / Sorrell

    Grown from Europe to the northern Mediterranean to Central Asia, sorrel is a perennial deep-rooted cousin of rhubarb and buckwheat. Although it resembles a typical salad leaf, its bright, tangy flavor sets it apart among leafy greens. Known as humeidh in Arabic, local cooks along the Gulf Coast will often pair sorrel leaves with ground fish and rice in some of the region’s specialty dishes.    

  • Camel Meat

    In the world’s driest areas, camels have long been the natural species for livestock herding. Though it is a myth that they store water in their humps, this is where they do concentrate their body fat, enabling them to survive in harsher, hotter conditions. In these regions, camels have long been prized for their nutritious meat, low in fat and high in important vitamins and minerals. Many see camel meat as having the texture of veal and the taste of lamb, and in some cultures it’s considered a festive food for weddings and holiday recipes.

  • Camel Milk

    Long the Middle East’s most important livestock species, camel is closely intertwined with the Gulf region’s culture and history. In addition to its meat, camel milk is an important source of nutrients and a core element of diets, remarkably high in vitamins and minerals. It has a unique, subtle flavor and can add a nutritious boost to desserts or your morning cup of coffee.



    Image Credit: Ilse Kohler-Rollefson
  • Date

    A staple crop of the Middle East for thousands of years, the date palm tree produces one of the region’s most culturally significant fruits. There are an estimated 5,000 different varieties of date palms cultivated worldwide, and the fruits are celebrated for their long shelf life and nutritional value, in addition to their delicious sweetness.

  • Figa'a

    Grown entirely underground without stems or leaves, the figa’a resembles a potato. It is in fact a wild truffle mushroom, found in deserts and semi-desert areas across the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa. Highly prized for its flavor and culinary versatility, the figa’a appears in a wide variety of dishes, from the popular local Figa’a stew to rice dishes and soups.

  • Sidaf

    Native to Oman’s mountainous regions, sidaf is a shrub most often found in the valleys and reefs of the Arabian Peninsula. Cultivated for centuries by locals in the area, its fruit is traditionally dried, crushed and mixed into vegetable and fish dishes or steeped into a healthy tea.

  • Teff

    A cereal native to the highlands of the Horn of Africa, teff has been central to diets in Ethiopia for centuries. It is the main ingredient in the national dish of both Ethiopia and Eritrea: a flatbread known as injera.

Our Partners

The experience was made possible by the commitment of our partners


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