Sunday, January 13, 2008

Food in Amman

In the travel section of yesterday’s New York Times there was an article called, ‘All the Foods of the Mideast at Its Stable Center.’

The reporter’s observation is that food in Amman represents the changes that have taken place in the Middle East. Her premise is that Jordan is the only stable country in the geographic middle of the region, and restaurants now reflect the identity of other nationalities who live here, Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, and Iraqi. It used to be that people went to eat falafel and shawerma in the small cafes, or mansaf, Jordan’s national dish, in the larger restaurants. Now (to quote the reporter) “in this politically, religiously and ethnically fraught corner of the world, it is a symbol of bloodlines and identity.”

But isn’t that true in every large cosmopolitan city in the world? In London you can eat Indian, Thai, Chinese, French, or American’s fast food exports to mention a few. Maybe there is a political significance to this and these restaurants exist to cater to the expatriates of the particular country. On the other hand, maybe the choice of cuisine is a business decision to offer culinary variety to Londoners. I think the article infers that in Amman it is the former, not the latter, although there are a number of well established Italian and Lebanese restaurants that have offered hungry Jordanians great food for years. I don’t think I’ve seen comments on food take on a political twist before. But then the article is about the Middle East.



Blogger The Observer said...

While we always had a variety of different national restaurants in Amman aka italian, chinese, french, indian, mexixan, lebanese...., you can find that recently, and due to the wars in lebanon and Iraq, we are finding more restaurants are opening from those countries, especially Iraqi's to cater for the Iraqi large population in Jordan.

Monday, January 14, 2008  
Blogger joladies said...

It's nice to know that all the 'foods of the Middle East' are readily available to the Americans ... but not to the people of the Middle East .... people of Gaza for instance. And while on the subject of food, let's take another look at the subject of another form of sustenance ... water. J


Monday, January 14, 2008  
Blogger Karen said...

I'm amused by the comment from "the observer" where he/she says that "we always had a variety of different national restaurants in Amman.... Not true, not always! The variety of restaurants only arrived in Amman in the 70's when the trouble started in Lebanon. In the 60's you had the choice of Roys on Jabal L'Weibdeh, the Intercontinental Hotel or the Philadelphia Hotel downtown...that was it! I guess that my age is showing!

Monday, January 14, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodness Karen - have you forgotten the Villa Rosa ! And I agree with you - the 70's was when it all started to happen ( in more ways than one !) I remember the great excitement when Leonardo da Vinci and Amigo Nabil arrived, not to mentioned the great pepper steak that was created by one Maitre Elias at the Sports City Restaurant. We have to give Prince Hassan credit for the first Chinese restaurant here, as it arrived when Peter Kwai was persuaded to start it on the Prince's suggestion, after an official visit to Taiwan, when he bemoaned the lack of Chinese food in Amman !

Tuesday, January 15, 2008  
Blogger joladies said...

Dear Anonymous,
Unfortunately, I predate you as when I arrived none of the places that you mentioned existed. I can certainly remember though when they arrived, how excited and happy we were to frequent them! Wonderful memories of the Villa Rosa and when Peter opened the first Chinese Restaurant, we thought that we had died and gone to heaven! It was wonderful then and continues to be wonderful to this day! Karen

Wednesday, January 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh. Not even Villa Rosa !!? When did that start ?

Friday, January 18, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Mr Maa ever play 'his nose ' ? Not quite as ghastly as it sounds. He imitated a mouth organ by squeezing his nose and humming tunes. My brother in law was so over come by this performance that he jumped off the balcony of the first floor private room at Peter's !

Friday, January 18, 2008  
Blogger MommaBean said...

In addition to the interesting tenor to the article is the idea that the resaurants serve as a political statement about making Iraqi food available for Iraqis (for example). I actually would have looked at this as an example of Iraqi entrepreneurship... But that's just me.

Friday, January 18, 2008  

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