The fruits wrought from carcasses of swine are regarded here in much the same way as hardcore pornography back home. It's there if you want it and know how to find it, but kept out of sight from children and self-respecting members of the community.
Plenty of poor substitutes are available in the form of beef or chicken luncheon meat, chicken hotdogs and rashers of breakfast veal. Stocking my food cupboard has become considerably easier in recent months. Having discovered larger chain supermarkets outside Manama, vast quantities of ready-made meals and cooking sauces are now at my disposal. Cheese is ridiculously hard to get hold of. Coldstores only seem to stock 'Happy Cow" a Dairy Lea type of product and processed cheese slices that the locals can't get enough of. Jawads (the local name for the Tesco brand), has a nice little deli section with a good range of mouldy cheeses and it was while perusing these nuggets of creamery gold that I stumbled across a shrine.
Barely noticeable was a gap leading to a secret treasure of more pork produce than you could shake a pot of apple sauce at. Pate, hotdogs, sausages, bacon, chops, loin, ribs, even that pie with the egg in the middle. Filling my basket like Hong Kong Phooey would, I slowed when the display degenerated into a pork autopsy. I was at an exhibition of body parts more suitable for grinding down to fertilizer than human consumption. Knuckles, bags of tails and icepops of blood, rinds, tongues and testicles - you name it, it was there, pink and frozen.
Already stilted I halted abruptly when presented to the 10.23kg, cling film wrapped head of the creature who's anatomy was commonly disguised as a desirable accompaniment to egg, beans, grilled tomato and tattie scones.
Must admit, it looked quite serene…