Prawn cocktails in Yemen
The prawns were landed before dawn in Hodeidah, piled into the back of a Toyota pickup, covered with ice and sacking and then driven hell for leather up to the market in Sana’a, where we would buy them straight off the back of the truck by the kilo. No sooner had we got them home than we cooked them just as they were, then deveined them, bagged them in small batches and froze them. This was our Friday picnic fare, along with prawn cocktail sauce and crisp khubz. With friends, we would set off for one of the many extraordinary places to visit within a day’s drive of town: Job’s Tomb, Kawkaban, Umm Layla. Or further away: Sheharah, Marib. The prawns went straight from the freezer into our cold box. We would usually eat them at the top of a mountain – because that is where many of Yemen’s most extraordinary sites are. Even after the hot climb, they had not fully thawed, so we had to leave them in the sun for a few minutes before we could start eating! You have to understand these were big Red Sea prawns! Also that this was a time of innocence more than a decade before 9/11.