When you were little, did you ever mix together all of the ingredients in the fridge, just for fun? Did you ever swirl two incompatible colors of finger-paint on the pallet, just to see if you could make something new, something previously unseen? I did both. Frequently. I turned out a decent chef and artist … Continue reading Where the World Lets Off Her Steam
When I say "neighborhood," what do you think? Is it a real memory that pops into your mind? Is it a picture you've painted over the years, brushstrokes stolen from decades of primetime family shows? Who has defined it for you? When I think of neighborhood, I hear Ray Charles, soulful and sort of rusty, … Continue reading Ray Charles in Jordan
The thickening layer of brown on the horizon is a signal of summer. The unsettled dust from the endless desert east of Amman seems to float higher and higher, not content until reaching the sun itself. Today’s breezes don’t hold the same force as those of mid-May. The lungs of the atmosphere are slowly tiring, … Continue reading A Flower that Blooms by Night
“He is from Karak. Ask him about Mansaf.” “Have you had Mansaf? You know the best one is in Karak.” “Have you heard of Karak? It is like the capital of Mansaf.” Never have I been asked the same food-related question three times on a first day in any country. Since I arrived here almost … Continue reading Off with His Head!
Living on top of a hill provides a false sense of confidence. When you can see everything, it all makes sense. It seems manageable, understandable. In Amman, neighborhoods are defined by the hill on which they sit. Jabal Amman, Jabal Hussein, Jabal Weibdeh—each has its own character, its own style, its own landmarks and identity. … Continue reading Lost in the Layer Cake
The rain was growing deafeningly loud as it pounded the water’s surface. It was like a prelude, like a crescendo intended to introduce some bigger song. I half expected the heavens to ring out with a power ballad, with some never-appropriate Celine Dion or Whitney Houston. After all, we were in the land of regurgitated … Continue reading Islands of Daisies
It is the quintessential love-hate relationship, a push-pull of epic proportions. Architects have tested their limits of innovation designing opera houses in his image, and chefs have surely convened in secret to unlock his potential. He is an icon, praised and cursed at the same time, highly valued but also reviled in public. Some call … Continue reading Long Live the King
I wondered what was in the red bucket. Was it sauce? Was it water? Was it mystery ingredient? Before I could ask, the ear of grilled corn dove straight in for a long bath in that red bucket. Last time that I ate something before asking what it was, I ended up with betel nut … Continue reading Red Bucket. Red Lantern. Red Envelope.
Masala Munch compels me to write another post about India. Still sleeping in a fleece through my last night in India, I nonetheless found Delhi a warm relief from the heights of Srinagar, where it started snowing again the day I left. I have defrosted indeed. In fact, I am sweating, my body once again … Continue reading Masala Munch
The last thing I expected was Guantanamera. I expected the azaan to ring out clearly over the strangely hushed and misspelled Cafea Arabica, but not Celia Cruz. Indeed La Guarachera de Cuba would have been banned here just ten years ago, her beats too haram in that time of curfews. The café, rumored to be … Continue reading #occupyparadise