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Published: August 1st 2012
A warning ahead of time - I don't have a gift for describing food or tastes, but hopefully you can get an idea from the pictures and my few short descriptions; I wanted to show some of the people at home what arab food is like.
Laila's mom is just as good of a cook as Laila had described to me. She has cooked most of our meals (but her dad did the fish and homemade pizza) and there hasn't been one that I didn't like. Yesterday was my first time trying Mansaf
, the national dish of Jordan. I loved it! It's lamb over rice with a fermented yogurt poured in over it and it has a completely unique taste. A lot of foreigners I have met say they really don't like it, but honestly, I thought it was delicious. The dishes I've tried have been from a mix of places. Most are P'lestinian, Jordanian, and Lebanese, but today we had a chicken and rice dish from Saudi Arabia too.
And wow I'm saving so much money! Not only have her parents been gracious in cooking for me a lot, but in the United States
a shawerma or falafel sandwich costs anywhere from $6.99 to $9.99 - when just last night I bought two falafel sandwiches for a grand total of $2! And the food here is obviously more authentic and thus tastier. Shawerma and falafel are kind of the equivalent of arab fast food, but I'd say they're higher quality as opposed to McDonalds or KFC. I've seen Burger King, McD's, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, and even Chilis. A lot of american chains have come to Jordan, but luckily I've been able to completely avoid them. If you don't know shawerma or falafel - shawerma
is made with chicken or lamb, scraped off of a big chunk of meat that is hung on a rotating skewer inside a semi cylinder grill. The meat is put into a wrap, usually with pickles and a mayo like sauce. Falafel
are fried balls of fava beans and or chickpeas mashed together, eaten alone with hummos or in a wrap like shawerma. Both are utterly delicious!
Arabs love to snack - common snacks are fa'ous
(sp?) - kind of like cucumbers, they're a watery vegetable that are really good to stay hydrated and as something
to snack on. Bugles are also really popular here and there's another salty party mix that all of Laila's family seem to always have stocked. Whenever company comes over bugles, party mix, assorted nuts and sometimes bread with different meats are always set out for the guests to snack on. Another middle eastern treat is bizer
- salted seeds (pumpkin or watermelon, not sure) that are at times addictive. They reminded me a lot of sunflower seeds and the way those are snacked on in the states. Dates
are also a pretty common snack here - more so than in the US. Common Cooking: Arabic yogurt
is something I've gotten used to and I know I will miss. It's a sugarless yogurt added to rice and other foods as a topping and I've grown to love it. Olive Oil
- an obvious necessity as Jordan is known for its many olive trees and its mediterranean dishes hummos
- found in falafel sandwiches and eaten with bread or other foods. Hummos is made from mashed up chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, and olive oil. Probably one of the most famous middle eastern foods.
More meals I've enjoyed since getting here were the BBQ
picnic we had, Laila's uncle's famous fajitas, her mom's asian chicken
, fattet jaj
- a chicken/rice dish with yogurt, nuts, and meat (lamb or beef) on top (my favorite so far! DELICIOUS),and also a stuffed chicken
(also in my top 3 favorites).
Her dad is a great cook as well! He fried fish
for us with boiled shrimp
that were to die for and also made us pizzas
one day. He and his sister were also the ones doing most of the BBQing and that turned out fantastic! There was lamb with arabic salad and a bit of chicken as well. We've also eaten at her grandma's house where we had chicken
- little soft bread pastries topped with seasonings and meat or cheese.
Verdict: the food here is just as good as Laila had described. The foods here all have unique tastes and seem to have fresher ingredients too. It feels good to get away from all that processed food in the US.
Only 2 more weeks before Laila and I head home! We
still have quite a bit on our to do list, but since tomorrow is my last day of class, I'll have more free time for the next two weeks before the next semester of uni starts.
So I've been looking forward to seeing Jordan's Dead Sea Scrolls in the National Archeological Museum of Amman, and I did something really stupid (memories of the Hong Kong fortress came back to me - Hong Kong - Day 25
) I didn't realize that the museum at the Citadel, that we went to a few weeks ago, was the National Archeological Museum... so I was there, but didn't see them! I'd be more upset except I'm planning on going to Jerusalem soon where most of the scrolls are kept, so I will still have a chance to see them.
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