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A few years ago, when I lived in Dubai, a local company came up with a novel idea to put an Arab spin on a European treat: Camel milk chocolate.
While camel milk has long been a traditional staple among Bedouin tribes, it had never before been used to make chocolate.
The company, Al-Nassma (an Arabic term that describes a cool desert breeze) had big plans to break into Europe’s chocolate market with their own unique recipe.
“Nobody thought about using camel milk before, then the people from the camel world met the people from the chocolate world and it occurred to everybody that it was obvious,” Martin van Almsick, the general manager of Al Nassma, told me at the time.
As proof of this magic marriage between camel milk and chocolate, he sent a large box of the stuff to our villa. Inside was everything from camel milk truffles to flavoured chocolate.
It definitely tasted sweeter than traditional chocolate. It also cost a bit more. However, after a thorough sampling (for scientific purposes) I concluded camel milk simply had no business meddling with the perfection of chocolate. Surely camel milk would return to the desert, where it belonged.
When I arrived back in Dubai last week, I discovered how wrong I was. Camel milk had encroached on something perhaps even more sacred: Coffee.
A new café, called Cafe2Go on Sheikh Zayed Road serves coffee, tea, milk shakes and smoothies with camel milk.
The owner, Emirati businessman Jasem Al Bastaki, says he has plans to open six outlets in Dubai this year, including drive-throughs.
Prices range from 9 Dirhams for a cup of hot camel milk to 22 Dirhams for a mocha cinnamon.
“Camel milk has many benefits. It is good for immunity, low in fat, healthy for bones, a rich source of protein and Vitamin C, has anti-aging properties and is easy,” a café marketing executive told The Gulf News.
For a moment, I toyed with the idea of drinking a steaming cup of camel’s milk, for the noble cause of the Worldview blog. But in truth, my stomach churned.
So in the end, I trekked over to another café that recently debuted in the United Arab Emirates: Tim Horton’s, where for Canadian expats, ordering a double-double feels almost as adventurous as a camel milk latte. But not quite.