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

  • Delicious sushi, sashimi and tempura...what more could you ask for?! @shinkasushibar creates amazing flavourful dishes with their culinary creativity😍😋 It's the perfect spot to indulge in tasty Japanese cuisine in a chill lounge ambiance #foodblogger #foodgasm #food #foodporn #foodie #sushi #sashimi #sashimilover #salmonsashimi #ottawaeats #supportlocal #613eats #japanesefood #sushilover #thefoodtease #thefoodteaseeats #unagi #seafood #raw #perfectspot
  • Had an enjoyable evening visiting Ottawa's only rooftop dining restaurant, Le St Laurent. Executive Chef @ryan.460ottawa and sous chef @mingdynastyfu create mouth watering dishes that everyone should have the pleasure of tasting! I was spoiled with an incredibly addictive venison tartar, a melt-in-your mouth pork belly and a flavour explosion Greek inspired dessert! 😍😋 Le St Laurent has all the elements for a perfect evening out: stunning view of the Ottawa region, flavourful dishes accompanied by warm hospitality. An Ottawa gem worth discovering! #foodie #foodporn #foodgasm #foodpic #travelblogger #travelpics #ottawaeats #613eats #supportlocal #thefoodteasetravel #thefoodteaseats #rooftoprestaurant #ottawafoodies
  • Happy Chinese New Year!! Year of the 🐷 and what an incredible year it will be! I couldnt help but think back to one of my most memorable dining experiences I had in North Point Hong Kong at what @cnn deemed as Hong Kong's wildest restaurant, Tung Po. Anthony Bourdain praised this eatery much like countless of others and for good reason. Tung Po is a favorite among locals with its delicious eats- especially seafood. However lots has to do with the restaurant's insanely energetic owner Robbie Cheung. From signing, dancing to doing the splits in his white Wellington boots, this owner takes hospitality to a whole new level! A place where you find yourself drinking beer from bowls and miraculously they never go empty 😋#chinesenewyear #yearofthepig
#tungpo #hongkong #travelblogger #travelpics #foodie #foodporn #foodgasm #foodtrip #foodblogger #seafood #thefoodteasetravel #thefoodteasedrinks #thefoodteaseeats #anthonybourdain #noreservations #foodexperience #beer #beerbowl #lunarnewyear
  • When the pesto and cheese omelet is strong...good weekend vibes especially with white truffle oil drizzled on top 😍😋 #foodblogger #foodgasm #foodpic #foodie #foodporn #instafood #morninggoals #brunch #thefoodtease #thefoodteaseeats #pesto #cheeselover #cheese #truffleoil #weekend #weekendvibes #wantmore #needmore #greatstarttotheday #whitetruffle #homechef
  • Thinking back when the @badruttspalace in #switzerland treated me like a princess 👸 The palace exudes opulence and sophistication, with the perfect backdrop of the Swiss Alps. Everything from their exquisite dining options, their state-of-the -art spa services to their attention to detail...everything a guest could possibly want and then some. They truly make you feel like you are their only guest. Being chauffeured in their fleet of #rollsroyce phantoms was the cherry on top!😍😍 #tbt #thefoodteasetravels #switzerlandtrip #inlovewithswitzerland #presstrip #travelblogger #bucketlist #instatravel #waunderlust #passport #travelpic #luxurytravel #luxury #luxelife #lovethisplace #lovemyjob
  • Love thinking about my Hong Kong & Taiwan press trip...such incredible experiences! One of them being, learning about the indigenous Amis tribe in Taiwan. I even learned how to make my very own water container with elephant ear leaves. The #tribal princess came shining through ⛰👸🏼I'm overly dressed due to the bugs in the forest...I'm surprised I was ok with all that heat and humidity🔥but it was all worth it😍#tbt #survivor #inthewild #wildprincess #presstrip #taiwan #culture #tribe #indigenous #luxurytravel #luxurylife #hualien #taiwan #waunderlust #travelblogger #travelpics  #thefoodteasetravel #worldtravel #lovemyjob #epic #bucketlist #pictureperfect #instatravel #breathtaking #waunderlust #nature #naturelover #nomad #worldtrip #traveling
  • Have your fabulous 'chichi' moments as you enjoy Moet Champagne, tasty brunch dishes and fine tea with the backdrop of an opulent salon. @thevanitearoom is a must try for any occasion, from special celebrations to just having a decadent 'just because' moment with friends and family. #luxury #teatime #decadence #champagne #teasalon #ottawa #supportlocal #613eats #thefoodtease #thefoodteasedrinks #musttry #foodblogger #indulgence #moet #brunch #tea #sundaybrunch
  • My perfect way to finish off the holidays was by seeing thousands of beautiful xmas lights arranged in such extraordinary animated fashion!😍 Everything from Santa's village, worldly 🌎landmark attractions to my favorite, driving through a dreamy icicle and snowflake ❄paradise and the spellbinding tunnel of lights!! #xmasmagic #holidays #holidaylove #travelblogger #travelpics #travel #magicoflights #ottawa #ottawalove #xmaslights #winterwonderland #dreamy #festive #mustsee #romantic #thefoodteasetravel #thefoodtease #youngatheart #christmasdecor #winterlover
  • Wow! What an exciting year 2018 has been😍 I had such delicious and cultural experiences from amazing destinations...Hongkong with its surreal skyscrapers and beautiful hikes to see their Bronz Buddha, Taiwan with their sensory overload night food market and hunter tribe excursion, Zurich where I had the rare opportunity to cook in the legendary Kronenhall restaurant, St.Moritz with its famous shopping and luxe lifestyle like staying at the @badruttspalace and hiking in the Alps and visiting a winery in Tocino. My beautiful Canadian 🇨🇦 country gave me the opportunity to learn about caviar in New Brunswick from the caviar man himself @kingofcaviar to fulfilling a dream of mine, learning how to maneuver a helicopter at @hellibellule in Quebec. Such incredible and fulfilling adventures with lasting memories! Can't wait to see what 2019 has in store for me 🍾🍸😊 #foodblogger #travelblogger #thefoodteasetravel #thefoodtease #travelpics #waunderlust #globetrotter #presstrip #luxury #luxurytravel #bucketlist #2018 #heresto2019 #moretocome #hongkong #taiwan #zurich #switzerland #inlovewithswitzerland #stmoritz #newbrunswick #caviar #canada #newyear #2019 #happynewyear
  • Wishing my food🍗, drink🍸and travel🌏 lovers out there the very best holiday season 🎅🎄🎁Whether you are hosting or being a guest, may you spend time with your loved ones and cherish those warm special moments that last a lifetime!😍😍
#thefoodtease #christmas #xmas #specialmoments #holidaylove #thattimeofyear #loved #lovedone #travelblogger #foodblogger #waunderlust #worldtravel #luxurytravel #memories #familytime
  • Thinking back to one of my memorable moments in Jordan. Seeing the sunset in the Wadi Rum desert with candles all around me was truly epic! The Bedouin people, the desert and the entire sensation of being in the same place where past kings once ruled this Arabian oasis was amazing😍😍 Special thanks to @wegojordan for taking this candid photo of me! #waunderlust #travelblogger #tbt #travelpics #travellover #foodblogger #luxurytravel #luxury #lovemyjob #presstrip #worldtravel #nomad #thefoodteasetravel #thefoodtease #jordan #wadirum #pictureperfect #picturesque #sunset #zenmoment #inthemoment
  • 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