Jordan, you had me at Za’atar!

By on February 17, 2018

Jordan has always been synonymous with historical intrigue. Jaw-dropping images of archeological riches found in the Nabataean city of Petra to its captivating desert canyons are like nothing else I have ever seen. It’s simply breathtaking!

Thanks to the Jordanian Tourism Board North America, I had the privilege of experiencing Jordan’s gracious and warm culture, and its mesmerizing ruins. However, it was the food and the people that really won me over.

The spectacular site of the Treasury in Petra, Jordan.

Surprisingly, I discovered that Jordan’s culinary flavours mostly derive from other Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, and that it is part of the Levantine cuisine with its main trait being meze. Basically, meze is an assortment of little dishes offered during a meal, such as tabbouleh, hummus and my favourite, baba ghanoush (an eggplant and tahini dip).

An assortment of traditional dishes in Jordan.

From the hustle and bustle of Amman to the tranquil oasis desert of Wadi Rum, dinners typically consist of colourfully seasoned dishes served with the warmest of hospitality.

I was told that the Jordanian culture was best understood through its food. From rustic gourmet dishes of grilled lamb chops with aromatic rice and sizzling spiced ridden chicken with roasted vegetables to the addictive clay-oven-baked bread and the array of meze, Jordanian culture was simply out of this world! These are just some of the many traditional dishes that will entice any sensible foodie! And, for those venturing into the desert, ‘Zarb’, a traditional Jordanian dish of lamb, chicken, and vegetables cooked in a hole over coals, is such a delicious cultural experience!

‘Zarb’, a traditional Jordanian dish of lamb, chicken and vegetables cooked in a hole over coals in the desert is definitely something to experience!

Visiting a souk (marketplace) in Jordan is quite an experience and a must-do. Spices, herbs, coffees and teas are plentiful in the quaint market stalls. It’s also customary for vendors to offer you a taste of their blend of coffee or tea as you peruse the goods on display. Interestingly, Jordanian coffee, also known as Arabic coffee, is predominantly mixed with cardamom and their delicious soothing tea is a typically a blend of black tea and sage.

As I meandered amongst the souks, I was particularly drawn to the spices – a beautiful collection of striking colours, aromas and flavours. One particular spice, Za’atar or Zahtar, which is a blend of dried thyme, oregano, sumac, salt and toasted sesame seeds, has become ubiquitous throughout Jordan. It is commonly used in restaurants, sold and traded in souks and savoured in local homes. When used on bread with olive oil, Za’atar transforms its simple vessel (the bread) into a delicacy.

Delicious bread with Za’atar spices on it…simply amazing!

And, to make my Jordanian trip even more spectacular, I unexpectedly came across a spice merchant as I was hiking through the rose-red rock cliffs of Petra. There I was standing on pebbles of sand set amongst the backdrop of one of the new Seven Wonders of the World completely enthralled by the historical flavours and traditions of Jordan’s culture. It just couldn’t have been staged any better!

Spice buying as I hiked through the rose-red rock cliffs of Petra.

The Jordan Tourism Board (www.myjordanjourney.com) provides travellers with a plethora of information regarding Jordan’s captivating culture and exceptional experiences.

**This article was first published in the lifestyle magazine Modern Mississauga and was given permission to post on the author’s site.

Leave Comment

International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association

Instagram

  • Last night was the VIP launch party to Ottawa's only food hall - the @queenstfare (formerly Hy's Steakhouse).This 9,000-square-foot, licensed food hall has everything for one to enjoy - great music, creative cocktails and delicious food! Special thanks to @mercadito_ottawa @qbarottawa @barrobo @capitolburgercounter @greenrebelrestaurant @senkitchen_qsf @fiazzafreshfired  and @thepeptides for changing things up in Ottawa! #foodie #foodporn #foodblogger #foodhall #queenstreetfare #ottawaeats #613eats #supportlocal #pizza #mexicanstreetfood #desserts #vietnamese #burgers #healthychoices #changingthingsup #nomnom #foodexperience #attraction #foodscene #livemusic #cocktails #experiencequeenstreetfare #thefoodtease #thefoodteaseeats #thefoodteasedrinks
  • During my press trips I'm always eager and intrigued to learn from different cultures. In Taiwan, I took time to enjoy the scenery of the Taroko National Park and learn about their tribal warriors. Generations of Taroko tribe warriors walked deep into the mountain forests and crossed the swift flowing rivers and streams of the Taroko Gorge as they hunted and gathered food. The day I visited the park, the humid hot heat combined with mating season ❤ made for perfect conditions for the cicadas 🦗 to sing. I learned that their loud sound actually repels birds  which is rather unfortunate. The sound was so loud it seemed as the mountains had amplified their songs. #tbt #taroko #presstrip #taiwan #waunderlust #travelblogger #travelpics #instatravel #tribal #tribalwarriors #presstrip #luxury #luxurytravel #topattraction #luxurylife #travelinstyle #lovemyjob #epic #bucketlist #pictureperfect #instatravel #pictureperfect #bucketlist #zenmoment #serenity #nature #naturelover #thefoodteasetravels #tarokogorge #tarokonationalpark
  • Enjoyed taking part in @petitbills 'Canada vs The World: New Zealand Edition' Wine & Food pairing event. Great food, delicious wines and great company made for a splendid evening🥂😍😋. #foodie #foodblogger #wine #foodporn #newzealandwine #canadianwine #winelovers #instafood #foodandwine #thefoodtease #thefoodteaseeats #thefoodteasedrinks #supportlocal #ottawaeats #613eats #foodlover #winelover #oenophile #perfectpairings #lamblover #newzealand
  • For those planning a trip to #switzerland🇨🇭 Enjoy reading about my Swisse adventure in @luxeottawamagazine as I visited #ticino #stmoritz and #zurich and experienced those most amazing activities, like hiking the Swisse Alps and staying in the famous @badruttspalace hotel feeling like a princess!!! #myswitzerland #foodblogger ##travelpics #presstrip #travellover #travelblogger #inlovewithswitzerland #nature #naturelovers #waunderlust #switzerland #switzerlandtrip #visitZurich #waunderlust #globetrotter #lovemyjob #thefoodtease #thefoodteasetravel
  • Pasta + pizza on one plate = true love😍😍😍 @artisinbakery nailed it! Their Kevin's Carbonara 2.0 Sourdough pie is off the hook! 🍕🍕😋😋
Whole milk mozzarella, crispy pancetta, sage, carmelized onions, topped with fresh hand rolled noodles tossed in Kevin's in-house chicken Reggiano reduction sauce, parsley, red chili flakes, Reggiano cheese, truffle oil and their famous sesame crust. How is it legal to be so delicious?! #foodblogger #foodgasm #foodpic #foodporn #pizza #carbonara #pasta #ottawaeats #supportlocal #613eats #thefoodtease #thefoodteaseeats #wantmore #foodcoma #nomnom #instafood #truelove
  • I'm all about experiencing things from different cultures, so when the opportunity presented itself I just had to try the "betel nut" experience😈😋 When in Rome, or in this case when in Taiwan...
For those of you that don't know, the betel nut gives people a buzz equivalent to six cups of coffee and is used variously as a symbol of love, marriage and a cure for indigestion and impotence.
Found across Asia, these nuts are harvested from the Areca palm and are chewed for their warming glow and stimulating properties (putting it mildly). Such is its effectiveness, that alongside nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, betel nuts are believed to be one of the most popular mind-altering substances in the world.
My small experience was interesting. I discovered rather quickly that the taste of the nut was very far from being tasty. Medicinally disgusting is the word I'd use to describe the flavor and it took a while for me to get used to it. There was so much chewing involved as the nut was covered by the betel leaf. Then 10 minutes later the nut started to work it's supposed magic. My entire chest, neck and arms turned so bright red and warm as the body buzz was kicking in, you'd swear I was sunburnt. With my heart racing and mouth and tongue turned orange in color, I started to feel my tongue become numb AND that's when I stopped chewing it. That was enough for me 😱 ☠  It's all about the cultural experience! #tbt #betelnut #buzz #bodybuzzz #culture #culturalexperience #travelblogger #travelpics #foodblogger #euphoria #asia #asiaexperience #wanderlust #nomad #youonlyliveonce #taiwan #culture #betel #instatravel #instapassport #aroundtheworld #exploringtheglobe #exploringtheworld #thefoodteasetravel #thefoodteaseeats #thefoodtease #theglobewanderer
  • My 'little' contribution to #halloween 🎃 It's not everyday I have long straight hair...love the double takes at work 😏 #halloweencostume #doubletake #straighthair #halloweenhair #madmenstyle #curlsaregone #whosthatgirl #costume #thefoodtease #thefoodteasetravel #foodblogger #havingfun #wig #missthecurls #travelblogger
  • My perfect way to end the autumn season was by experiencing @ottawarecolte2018 by the Rideau Canal. Visually it was stunning with all the lanterns and domes being lite up as they provided the most scenic of dinners! And the food....a 4 course blind tasting menu perfectly executed by @chefrenerodriguez and his team member @rzmnpssn was truly stellar! Guests were spoiled by a spicy acorn salad, a delicious thai broth and for the main, either a melt-in-your-mouth short rib dish or a salmon and bearnaise delight - each dish was exceptional 😋 And for dessert, guests were fawning over the explosion of flavours given by the vanilla bean panacotta😍😍 #récolte613 #popupdinner #foodblogger #foodgasm #foodpic #foodie #foodporn #instafood #dome #domedinner #dining #autumn #travelblogger #thefoodteasetravel #thefoodtease #thefoodteaseeats #613eats #unique #oneofakind #lovemyjob #rideaucanal
  • Nothing like getting some fresh air by hiking the SWISSE ALPS!! #tbt to such an amazing and exhilarating experience I had in Switzerland 😍. A massive bucketlist ✔to anyone that enjoys the outdoors and also those that enjoy a good cardio workout with a million dollar view🏔 #alps #hiking #epic #bucketlist #travelpics #travelblogger #instatravel #pictureperfect #hikingadventures #inlovewithswitzerland #foodblogger #switzerlandtrip #alps #thefoodteasetravel #thefoodtease #mothernature #serenity #lovemyjob #presstrip #epic #outdoors #workout #cardio #inshape
  • Here's to a smooth sailing work week, like the time I had in Lugano, Switzerland. Guaranteed, work was not on my mind with this view😍 #inlovewithswitzerland #travelblogger #presstrip #luxurytravel #luxury #instatravel #pictureperfect #switzerlandtrip #switzerland #lugano #luxe #luxelife #foodblogger #paradise #dreamy #yacht #yachtlife #thefoodteasetravel #thefoodtease #sailing #instatravel #lovemyjob #mountainside #waterside #luxurylifestyle
  • Fall doesn't get any prettier than this. The gorgeous @hoteldulaccarling was the perfect place for me to take in the fall scenery 🍁🍂and enjoy their trails! #thefoodteasetravel #fall #autumn #naturephotography #naturelover #pictureperfect #hiking #favoritetimeoftheyear #tranquility #lakesside #takingitallin #mothernature #serenity #lovethisplace
  • Ecstatic that I completed my helicopter initiation course (ground theory and flight) with @transportation.canada.cpss instructor, 
Thibault Deconinck at Hélibellule. Such a high😊🚁 that I actually flew the Robinson 22 behind me!! #bucketlist #travelblogger #travel #helicopter #helicopters #flying #learningtofly #adrenaline #needforspeed #aviation #birdinthesky #nervous #nervesofsteel #thefoodteasetravel #neededlotshelp