We are eating dinner. I pick at my piece of meat, separating it from the bone. There is little talk at the table. We are all hungry.
Then, a sigh. The inevitable question. “What should I make for dinner tomorrow?” she asks. We all groan.
“Nothing! Don’t make anything! We don’t even want to eat…we’re sick of thinking about what to cook!”
She reminds us all that there are so many dishes to choose from, so many blessings, and that we’re being ungrateful. Vegetable stews and rice dishes and breads and salads! “Let’s just have something light..” She lists many options. She has a wealth of knowledge, from many years of experience.
At that moment I realize that I have given no attention to the cuisine of this society, a society in which food is so very important. Through food, you appreciate your value as a guest, you celebrate a newly-married couple, you mourn your dead. Through food, you harvest the bounties of the Earth, never wasting, thanking Allah. A dry piece of bread lies on the street; you pick it up out of the way in respect, so that it does not get stepped on. Someone will eventually take it to feed their goats. Through food, you can better understand Amman and its people. “May Allah make this blessing of food everlasting…” Allahumma ameen.
“I must collect this knowledge, I must pay tribute to them all and to their cooking, I must thank them for feeding me!” I decide. This then, is my ongoing collection of recipes from the people around me – my aunts, grandmother, relatives, neighbors, friends – as I spend time here in Amman on a Fulbright scholarship. I have learned so much from them, and I would like to share some of that with you. Please enjoy :)