By Christine Tibbetts
Photos by Christine Tibbetts
Culinary travel means so much more than food.
|Lunch in Um Quays triggers much musing gazing toward the Golan Heights and the Sea of Gallilee. Multiple courses distinguish many meals in Jordan.|
Two trips to the Kingdom of Jordan served up connections to eons of time for me: past and present eras -- plus fodder for thinking about the future.
This is the Middle East, after all, and encounters with peaceful, hospitable Jordanians balanced my perspective of world events. Here are some of ways breaking bread in a far away land opened my eyes along with my tastebuds.
Use these as seeds to cultivate a desire to embrace travel in Jordan.
My two seatmates in the middle section for three people on Royal Jordanian Air from Chicago to Amman were sisters from Palestine. American citizens now and heading home to visit their mother.
Eight hours of conversation with the vegetarian meals each of us had pre-ordered seemed a privilege to me. International flights as a solo traveler open possibilities to understand real-life situations.
|Women are the bread bakers in traditional Bedouin families, a daily function seated on the ground.|
On the ground in Amman, Jordan’s bustling capital city, extensive culinary experiences call for a long holiday. One is Levant where my lunch of many courses lasted three hours. Those many courses also reflected many cultures with dishes from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine as well as Jordan.
“The place where the sun rises” is the meaning of the word levant so I learned from the menu. Consider a vast variety of cultures while dining here.
Hashem is a bustling open-air restaurant in Amman, and a history lesson. That’s a sixth century – or earlier - name and belonged to the grandfather of the prophet Mohammed. He was a caravan owner with trading routes to Syria and Yemen and lived in Mecca.
|Sharing coffee with a Bedouin family is ceremonial and surrounded with important customs.|
People watching works well in city restaurants, and I observed evolving fashion: traditional faith-based women’s clothing, mostly black, but also fabrics of bold colors, even reds and plaids.
Outside the city, engaging with local folks over a meal happens frequently.
How about coffee in a Bedouin tent, prepared and served by the patriarch of a little community? Men always handle this highly ceremonial process, but only women bake the bread. Both happen on the floor over an open fire.
The best way to access this authentic family experience is spending a night or two at Feynan Ecolodge which is next to the Dana Biosphere Reserve.
Petra, the fabled city of rose-colored carved buildings, is the place to have tea. Camel caravans converged here transporting copious amount of spices and teas on long journeys, so sipping an ancient recipe connected me to the distinct meaning of this stunning place. Rosemary Petra is the spice shop.
Taking tea home to stoke my memories worked easily too.
|Lots of sugar is part of tea recipes in Jordan.|
Driving north I saw lush lands and olive trees, and stopped at roadside produce stands for almonds and to admire the rich colors and enormous sizes of cabbages, peppers, eggplants and much more.
Um Quays is an ancient Greek City highly recommended to stroll about, and to claim lunch. Pair that with an exploration of Ajloun, the 1187 AD Crusader fort.
For me, facing the Golan Heights over lunch while considering the history of Israel, and the 1967 peace plan, then looking toward the Sea of Galilee was a stirring experience. Food’s good too.
Stirring also to drive further, to the Dead Sea. I opted to stay at the Kempenski Hotel Ishtar where buffet meals are lavish and extensive, and so are the settings. Reminiscent of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is one way to picture the architecture.
Cultural diversity tickled me one morning at breakfast on a Kempenski terrace. Overlooking the Dead Sea and gazing toward Israel, I realized the music playing was Simon and Garfunkel. What else but “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”