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.
The Old City of Jerusalem
Rolling out of the mini van, feet firmly planting themselves onto the ancient stone ground, I couldn’t have felt a more immense happiness. After hours of standing in between large dark men and women bearing screaming babies in a queue of what had to be a thousand people, I was glad to be home. More than glad. Lucky.
The checkpoint on the border of Jordan and Israel was far from a welcoming airport that I have become so accustomed to. Arriving at the front of the line, a man with dark green eyes and thick brown hair called us over to his booth. He sat firmly in his chair with eyes planted on us, scanning each family member as if a grocery item. It was a good ten minutes before he lifted his head from his keyboard and questioned us about our arab descent. He was sceptical about the reasons for our entry into his land. But after more scanning, and a reassuring smile from me, he let us through. He let me home.
The gates of the old city offered great vibrance and a warming welcome. Carts filled with kilos of plump, hot-pink strawberries lined the walls of the old city and the perfume of cardamon pods and strong black coffee filled the cold winter’s air. My journey to discover the food so loved by my Palestinian ancestors had begun.