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!
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.