When You Can’t Cook in Jordan

Written by Margaret Stoner, (Franklin & Marshall College) Student Correspondent CET Jordan, Summer 2017

Rice and yogurt are included in almost every meal

Before departing for Amman for the summer, one my primary concerns revolved around food. What would I eat? Growing up, I did not have much experience cooking, and at my college I have the most extensive meal plan available. So, when I realized that during CET I would have to find meals on my own, I felt a bit apprehensive about what exactly I would eat. Although the first few days were a bit tough, I’ve grown more comfortable buying ingredients, cooking, and ordering food in restaurants.

During orientation, we reviewed words for different types of food and practiced common phrases used during shopping. Right across from the CET apartments there is a small grocery store and a market that sells fresh fruits and vegetables which are great for post-class snacks. You can find most of the ingredients you need for simple meals within a two minute walk from your apartment.

Over the course of the semester, we had several cooking classes with CET.  The best part was that each class makes a different dish, so it increases the collaborative potential of your dinners.  Splitting the costs and cooking with your friends in the apartments is a great way to save money and learn new techniques and recipes.

The Jordanian roommates and language partners are a great resource for both learning how to cook traditional Jordanian foods and  recommending good restaurants. A cooking night with my roommates has been one of the highlights of the semester for me.  Our  Jordanian roommate showed us how to make al-Dayf, a sweet made almost exclusively during Ramadan. We stuffed pancake-shaped pastries half with cheese and the other half with a sweet nut mix. Afterwards, we fried the pastries and dipped them in a homemade syrup.

My class made Alayat Banadora and Kofteh

Finally, there are plenty of good and cheap restaurants around the University of Jordan.  If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, Pimp My Sandwich is a one minute walk from the CET apartments (and as a bonus, has really good juice).  A little farther down the road, there is place to get quick shawarma if you’re in a hurry. Bab al-Yemen al-Saed is a great place to get Yemeni food, but don’t go alone.  The dishes are large enough to share with a friend and still have leftovers.

While it was daunting to consider how I would buy and prepare my meals before I came to Jordan, a month into the program I feel much more confident both cooking for myself and navigating restaurants in Amman.