The biggest foodie of my friends asked me to write a blog about food here in the Middle East (requests for topics can be handed in a week in advance, only written applications, in threefold, will be taken into consideration :p). And as I was thinking of how to describe the amazing tastes, I realised that this is easier said than done. Especially because it’s not just the food, it’s the people that share with you that makes it an incredible experience.
For example, a few days ago, I was in Nazareth, Israel. I was wandering through the souk and smelled amazing coffee (I’m starting to get hooked on Arabic coffee). I went inside the shop of an old man who sold coffee beans, grinded coffee and spices. This lovely man showed me the whole process of mixing different beans, roasting them, mixing with spices, etc.
After a while he offered me a coffee, which I obviously couldn’t refuse! And this is the best part, I’d bought a coffee maker in Istanbul, but had no idea how to use it (I know, sounds like a typical tourist). So this man showed me how to make a proper (delicious) coffee. Besides the fact that I spent over an hour in his shop and drank many strong coffees while chatting the time away (I felt very awake after so much caffeine), he didn’t even want to have anything for the coffee I bought at his shop. People here are so generous and share whatever they have.
Similarly in Istanbul. I was, as a proper tourist again, following a walking route through the city. Me and my amazing new friend were slightly lost, so we ended up at a local market where we bought some dried apricots (the prices here were about a quarter of the tourist prices downtown). However, the guys in the shop made it their task to let us taste every single thing in the shop: figs, walnuts, turkish delight (which is like a small sugar bomb), cheese….
After buying loads of food for about €1, we moved on to the next place, where it all started again. Delicious tea (with a lot of sugar, I somehow started drinking all my drinks with sugar here), more turkish delight, etc. After a while, we politely thanked for more tea and rolled (almost literally) out of this area. We felt so sick after all this food!
Ok, but I know you’re thinking, these are nice examples, but still don’t say anything. So I’ll describe a normal day, and then you’ll understand why I’ll be wearing a fully covering, XXL dress at graduation. This morning, my breakfast consisted of (pita)bread, a boiled egg, local cheese, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 different types of cake, pizza slices, yogurt, Arabic coffee/fresh orange juice/fresh mint tea. And all of this was included in the price of the hostel. Lunch was falafel and dinner was a repetition of breakfast. Not too bad, huh ;).
Of course, every country has its own specialities. In Morocco I ate many tahines, couscous and, best of all, homemade soup. It took me a while to discover this, but many restaurants offer fresh soup (often lentilsoup or vegetable soup) for €0,50!! Can you imagine?!
In Israel I ate loads of falafel and in Turkey I just ate everything (sorry, there’s no better way to describe it).
There’s one thing I failed at. There’s a typical food here in Jordan that’s called knafl (no idea how to write it). We heard it’s amazing, but the queues for it were so long that they were until around the corner. So if you ever find yourself in Jordan (Amman), please try this one for me! For the Dutchies; snavel, s=k, -e –> easy to remember!
Hmm, after all, writing about food isn’t that hard. I could write another 10 pages about this. Although I’m still not able to describe the taste! I think I should start working out again as soon as I’m back home (only 2 weeks to go! Scary!).
Take care and see you all soon (in 2 weeks in the Netherlands, in 4 weeks in the UK, and the rest…. Soon!).