Monday, May 23, 2011

The food of Jordan: Part I.

I am starting something new now. A series of sorts.

When I visited the Middle East the first time it was early 2007 and Spring had just started. It was a fascinating experience of all senses but foods had the most appeal to me.
When I left to go back home after 2 months I was able to tell the difference between good hummus and just so-so. I knew when bread was really fresh from the oven or had been sitting for a while. I hadn't learned to cook anything but had fallen head over heels for the food.

Most interestingly, at the end, were the fruits and vegetables I encountered I hadn't seen in Europe.
(Or had never tried because the item placed in front of me had no appeal to me - like imported dates with their cover of syrup. The ones available at the markets in Berlin have nothing in common with the plump almost candy like dates available here which are almost twice the size. I will show you what I mean later this year.)

For a start, let's talk about a fruit in season right now and maybe for a couple more weeks: Loquat.
Up until a couple of days ago, I only knew it's Arabic name: Askedinia - even in the supermarkets with their bilingual signs they write this.

Here is what they look like:


Pretty much every backyard (except ours) features one of these evergreen trees which bear fruit from April to June. 
It's a very sweet fruit that bruises easily. And while the skin is edible there are stones hidden inside the size of my thumbnail (I have small hands.).
According to the link loquats can be made into jams, pies and chutneys but no one around has ever bothered to do so. I am not sure if canning fruits is widely done. 
My mother in law focuses on olives, little eggplants and tomatoes (not together).

I remember once, in the summer months of 2007, I saw loquats at my supermarket. They didn't taste of anything, being picked unripe and from god knows where. But I bought them anyway, at a horrendous price too I am sure, just to be back to those Spring days in Jerusalem. 

Cannot wait to tell you of the next thing I found just a week ago.


  1. What a great idea Annika, there is nothing on Jordanian food out there. I will be following your posts!

  2. Mispeln! I keep hearing about them, and picked up a few at the Turkish Market on Saturday, though I'm a bit terrified of them after my encounter with persimmons.

    Looking forward to your series.