Food opposites

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Some food in Kuwait is cheaper than you could even imagine. This deliciousness from a random, hidden but incredibly busy “restaurant” in Kuwait City was incredibly cheap. So cheap that when I asked Jeff just now if he remembers how much it cost (we went over a month ago), his reply was “nothing.” According to Saud (who introduced us to this place), the shawarma were about 300 fils each. That’s $1. Throw in the samosas and we paid a couple cents over $1 per person.

On the other hand, there are items that are unbelievably expensive in Kuwait. This week we decided to treat ourselves to some fresh US strawberries. 


1.790KD = $5.96. For strawberries. But every once in a while you just gotta have some juicy, beautiful strawberries. And other times you find cheap shawarma that satisfies other taste buds. It’s all about balance.

A little extra

We came to Kuwait with minimal expectations. Since arriving, we’ve learned a lot about living and teaching abroad (in general) and in Kuwait. Some people might think we make lots of money. We don’t really – we just don’t pay taxes.

We’ve learned that the real money comes from tutoring. Some people tutor just before big assessments, others tutor 10+ hours a week. The going rate is anywhere from 15 to 30 KD…an HOUR! That equates to $50 to $100+ an hour! Wow is all we had to say. And tutoring is extremely common. Lots of students ‘need’ it (elementary through high school), for a variety of subjects and skills. The tricky part of tutoring is making sure that you are indeed tutoring and not actually doing the students work for them. We’ve heard that many students just hire a tutor to complete his/her assignments. Not okay.

Although not many students are looking for tutors in Social Studies or French, Chemistry and Science is quite popular. So I’ve been sitting back waiting for the right time and the right student to come along. After communicating with the father of a grade 11 boy (from Kuwait), I had my first tutoring session on Tuesday. The student came with his driver to pick me up. We drove to their villa passing the Switzerland Embassy on the way. We entered through the garage into a gorgeous room that had a couple round tables and an area of couches for a social gathering (diwaniya?). A maid was just leaving and had left a tray for me with water, juice and a couple pieces of some cake/bread. For the next hour we talked Chemistry – what he was struggling with and where I could help him. He taught me, I taught him. He is an incredibly respectful, nice young man who seems like he actually wants to learn and understand. At one point his mom came down and I was able to meet her. She was nice and very grateful. (I’ve heard that many tutors rarely see the students parents.) After our allotted hour he walked me back to the car, getting his driver on the way out (he lives off the garage). Starting next week, his driver will be at our apartment every Monday and Wednesday at 7:45pm. We’ll work for an hour and I’ll be home by 9:15pm.

Life is crazy…good 🙂

Food Lately

**This post has taken me countless hours to write because of many technical difficulties (among other things). The pictures still look funny when published for some reason.’re going to have to deal with it! I’m going to bed 🙂 I really, truly hope you enjoy!!

For being such lovers of food, we haven’t posted a lot about what we’ve been eating…so today I’m here to make you jealous! There are lots of American restaurants in Kuwait (McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Ruby Tuesday, Chili’s, Applebee’s, P.F. Chang, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway…I could go on). We’ve only patronized two Western places so far…Starbucks and Shake Shack, both at The Avenues. Instead of eating at places we’re familiar with, we’ve been making our own food (comme toujours) and going to small, local ‘restaurants.’ Jeff has two rules for you when you come visit…one of them is that you eat whatever we tell you to eat! Enjoy!

First, some of the meals we’ve bought…

Swedish meatballs from one of our early Ikea excursions.

Once a week we pay 1.5 KD for a rotisserie chicken (chicken machine) from a Lebanese place between the school & our apt. It lasts us 2 meals and the first night is usually pulled chicken over salad. Sometimes we splurge and get a schawarma too!

A true staple in our diet. This particular bread we bought fresh out of the oven for pennies! It was so hot Jeff needed more than the newspaper to carry it home 🙂

The (literal) hole in the wall where our bread was made!

When we went to the Friday Market (on a Thursday), we ate at an Indian place there. We paid 800 Fils for all this yumminess…two chicken wraps of some sort, fried veggies, & a sambosa!

We love the two Lebanese restaurants between our apt and school! Bread & hummus from one, falafel wrap from the other…all for less than 1KD!

The Shack Shake in The Avenues is amazing…expensive, but my caramel shake was totally worth it!

Some friends introduced us to the soup place. We ask for 4 containers of green soup with onions & lemon and hand over 1.5KD. These 4 containers (with bread as spoons) will last 4 meals for both of us!

Our green soup came in the one with the towel. There’s other soup too…we were advised against trying them though 😉

And here are some of the meals we’ve made…

We found a Madras curry paste that we’ve fallen in love with! So far, we’ve had a curry stir-fry about once a week. We vary up the veggies and have added Kuwaiti shrimp a few times too!

This is one of the ways that we used pulled chicken machine…with green beans over couscous. More delicious that we thought it would be!

Yet another meal using pulled chicken machine…this time pasta! It started off as a creamy sauce and ended as a cheesy sauce. Basically spicy mac n’ cheese w/ artichokes, tomatoes & mushrooms…again better than expected!

Another weekly staple – pizza using Iranian bread (we can get 5 pieces for 100-250 Fils). We’ve been using sun-dried tomato pesto, whatever veggies we have and sliced mozzarella. We also make garlic cheese bread with the ‘fluffy garlic’ sauce that we get with our chicken machine.

We love us some Iranian bread! For wraps, Jeff roasted chickpeas in cumin and we ate them with moutabel, cucumbers & lettuce.

Another concoction with Egyptian bread 🙂 We were recently introduced to labneh – a cheesy sour cream yogurt spread. Delish!

Jeff had the amazing idea to make a Niçoise Salad. It was simple, filling and healthy…yum. We also found a new bread – Egyptian bread sold at the Sultan Center. Kind of like a thick pita and it comes in white or brown.

I found a pumpkin pancake & waffle mix at the Sultan Center! If you didn’t know, I ❤ pancakes…seriously. We’ve made these the last two Saturdays. We put out tons of toppings (butter, PB, almond butter, cocoa, honey, pecans, banana…) and eat up! This morning I added oatmeal to the batter for the last couple…tasty and SO filling!

We hope you’ve enjoyed a peak into our culinary lives! Are you ready to come visit yet?! We are loving the food here so far and have had a lot of fun being adventurous. We’ve heard that there are a lot of great restaurants so we are eager to find & try them! Enjoy the rest of your weekend 🙂


We have a new weekend saying…thank God/goodness it’s Thursday!

I’m especially happy because I just taught my last class as a temporary French teacher at AIS :) The new teacher arrived on Tuesday morning, shadowed me yesterday & today and will take over her full schedule (my 3 classes plus another French and a Spanish) on Sunday. It feels great to be done and I’m ready to be 100% committed to being a Technology Coach. I am, however, grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know some of the students at our school. In total, I now know 51 students in grade 9, 10 & 11. It was also nice to meet the Language B teachers and speak French. The head of department (HOD) also asked me if I would be willing to sub for her later in the year. This wasn’t the start I had envisioned for my school year, but overall I’m glad I had the opportunity to help the school :)

We got reimbursed for our visa & medical expenses…so we have some cash again! We’re headed to the Friday market with a group from school this afternoon. Happy weekend everyone!

Quick edit: it was incredibly interesting to be in a classroom in Kuwait as everything is going on near the US Embassy’s in our general vicinity. It was refreshing to have a conversation with students who can acknowledge that what the Americans did who made the movie was horribly wrong…but also that the response by some people in the Muslim states is juste as wrong. It’s not all Americans and it’s not all Muslims…and it’s too bad that a few people represent all of us.

Money, Money, Money…MONEY!

After 2.5 weeks, we’re still trying to wrap our heads around our new money…the Kuwaiti Dinar. AIS gave us a settling allowance…in cash! When we had it in our hands, it didn’t seem like very much. But then when we started doing the conversion, we realized it was a lot!

On our first trip to the grocery store during orientation (more to come soon), we were quite confused by the prices. We’re still in the process of adjusting and trying not to constantly convert to US dollars in our heads. The Sultan Center is one of the major grocery stores here. Other notable ones are Lulu Hypermarket and Carrefour. We’ve found a Sultan Center that is very close to our gym (again, more to come soon!) and we can easily stop on our walk home. It has quickly become our favorite place to grocery shop!

Receipt from our first trip to the grocery store (Sultan Center).

5 fils = $.02
10 fils = $.04
20 fils = $.07
50 fils = $.18
100 fils = $.35
1/4 dinar = $.89
1/2 dinar = $1.78
1 dinar = $3.55
5 dinar = $17.75
10 dinar = $35.50
20 dinar = $71

There are 1000 fils in 1 dinar (like there are 100 pennies in 1 dollar). One dinar is about 3.55 dollars. We’ve heard it doesn’t fluctuate much. The smallest bill is 1/4 dinar (250 fils); the biggest (that we’ve seen) is 20 dinars.

Arabic side of the dinar bills.

English side of the dinar bills.

Front side of coins (fils).

Back side of coins (fils).

The coins are incredibly small and range from 5 to 100. They also don’t have any numerals on them that we are used to seeing…so we’ve had to quickly learn some Arabic numerals!

After shopping for a couple weeks, we’ve noticed that many shops don’t have enough coins & small bills to make change and prefer you to have exact change. When you don’t have exact change, they usually round in your favor or take less money because they don’t have small coins in their drawers. We get our first paycheck in a couple weeks and we’re eager to start budgeting and figuring out what all this crazy money stuff actually means 🙂