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  • Writer's pictureLiz Totton

Easter Abu Dhabi-Style

Easter Eggs in Abu Dhabi

Easter Eggs in Abu Dhabi

In true UAE spirit, Easter is not merely tolerated, as most would probably assume a Christian holiday might be “observed” in the Muslim world–at best, it is enthusiastically embraced! Why wouldn’t anyone readily accept a holiday synonymous with bunnies and milk chocolate? Who can hate a bunny? Seriously though, the degree to which Easter activities abounded here in Abu Dhabi threw me for a loop. Sure, there was a lot of Christmas-related gear around town in Expat and Local shops alike, but almost every hotel offered some really unique, fun way to usher in Easter. Most were on Saturday, the 19th because Easter was not on a work or school holiday here. It was, of course, on Sunday which is the first day of the workweek. So, how did we celebrate Easter? We did Easter Abu Dhabi-Style: not just baskets, Hershey’s chocolate bunnies and peeps, but decadent and over the top.

Bunny in Abu Dhabi, Shangri-la Hotel

Bunny in Abu Dhabi

While many of  our friends were all at very traditional Easter Egg Hunts (our kids are getting a little old for that), we took our kids to have a lesson in the fine art of chocolatiering led by a Master Pastry Chef at the Shangri-La Hotel  here in Abu Dhabi. It was beyond decadent and so fun. 15 minutes into the class, we were covered in fine chocolate—no Hershey’s here, thankfully. If you are going to be smothered in chocolate, you should settle for nothing less than Swiss—that is one thing I learned in Chocolatiering class: American Chocolate sucks, but we all knew this. Let’s move on. So, my super cool neighbors, to whom I am grateful every day, came up with a fun Easter idea: this chocolate class in town, which teaches kids how to sculpt Easter-related Chocolate crafts using freeze-drying applications and other cool, “master chef” kind of tools. I knew my eldest, who has taken an–BIG-time, genetic leaning, its-in-our-blood kind of–interest in cooking lately, would be onboard; the youngest girl would be in it for the chocolate. Can you blame her?

Chef's Chocolate Creation, Shangri-la Abu Dhabi

Chef’s Chocolate Creation

The Shangri-La’s, barely advertised, Easter chocolatiering class did not disappoint. The place was fully staffed to make sure no kid left disappointed. Chocolate abounded like the incongruous, Made in China kind of plastic Easter eggs and, god forbid, Hershey’s chocolate used to monopolize my Easter at home. From Chef hat and apron fitting to washing up, they made sure every kid, aged whatever—in true UAE-style—had a great time. Each kid left with a similar chocolate creation and over a half dozen delicious, homemade truffles. To say most were gone before Easter proper is generous—they were tasty and eaten fast.

So, for those wondering about religious tolerance in the UAE, I remain perched happily on the fence. I can tell you that the UAE deserves to be lauded for its acceptance of Christian beliefs. I commend this amazing country for that. Would I love to see other religions dually recognized and accepted? Sure! I am all about tolerance and acceptance, but I think it’s all about baby steps towards great things. If I were to be honest, I often question the true spiritual significance of these Christian holidays to most people–beyond the chocolate eggs, shopping, presents and baskets. Many, I fear, would say it’s all about the shopping, if they were to be honest. But, perhaps that is fodder for another blog? 

Chocolate class, Shangri-La Hotel Abu Dhabi

How else do you clean your hands in Chocolate class?

In the meantime, I hope every one here and everywhere, who celebrates Easter, had a fantastic day. It’s no wonder our Western, Christian holidays are so readily accepted here. On the surface, our holidays are just yummier. Whatever you believe, chocolate soothes and cures. Here’s the “latest” proof. This, I believe: molten Swiss Chocolate licked straight off your fingers cures all that ails. If I learned nothing else, I learned this much on Easter in Abu Dhabi.

[lg_slideshow folder=”Easter 2014/”]

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