Although Arabic food is not the most glamorous of foods, I hold the opinion that the Arab cuisine has some of the tastiest dishes in the world. Arabs are renowned for their robust, hearty rice dishes packed with nuts, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, and the list goes on. Flavour is definitely not lacking, even in their traditional peasant food! This feast was one of my favourites! We were travelling around Amman, Jordan in the midst of a rainy winter visiting family. After a long day we settled at my mum’s cousin Sami’s house for a classic Jordanian dinner; Arabic style rice topped with chicken, nuts, peas and carrot, a simple salad, big bowls of plain yogurt and a two huge platters of Kibbeh. It was a feast that I will never forget.
In our last few days of venturing Jerusalem’s Old City, Mum and I went on a hunt for the best coffee shop. It was essential that we brought back a bag of freshly brewed coffee for my Teta and my Aunty Helen back in Australia.
A small cup of super strong, super sweet Arabic coffee is a must have every time we pay my grandparents a visit. When I was young I remember standing over the stove glaring into the bright red coffee pot waiting for the water to boil. I remember yelling out what coffee to sugar ratio to add to the water, and disputes resulting from the innocent question. My grandparents prefer what they call ‘three and three’- three parts coffee to three parts sugar. My parents on the other hand prefer ‘three and two.’ My Teta prefers plain coffee beans in her grind where my mum likes her coffee beans ground with fresh cardamon pods. Nonetheless, coffee of this sort is quintessentially Arabic, and I always enjoy it!
Growing up in Sydney, a trip to Granville with my Teta and Mum was a fortnightly must. It always fascinated me that I could experience the Arab world in a suburb only half an hour from my house. After hours of being lugged around Arabic grocery stores and the ‘quick’ trip to the Arab butcher, I was always promised a hot Mana’ish (or Zatar bread) at the end of it all. The sour oregano mixture on top of hot puffed flat bread never failed to re-ignite my happy childish self after a long day of grocery shopping. So when I came across Mana’ish on a long narrow street of the old city of Jerusalem, memories of my childhood trips to Granville returned and an instant feeling of warmth came over my winter-struck body.