Just as there are urban delicacies in the United States like hot dogs in New York City, Amman has its own flavor of street food. When I first arrived in Jordan, I was baffled by the presence of stands lining the streets that offered up cups of seasoned corn. Each time I passed the booths, I salivated over the delicious smell of roasting corn mixed with a variety of spices like paprika, salt, and garlic. I vowed to one day purchase a cup filled with these savory kernels, but continually put it off. Recently, I received an email from the University of Denver alerting students of the death of the Russian immigrant who has served up hot dogs at his stand outside of the main academic building for decades. My friend Megan and I always planned to buy a dog but never got around to it. The fact that I never seized this opportunity while I had the chance motivated me to finally buy a cup of corn.
On Monday after class, my friend Flor and I walked to the tunnel connecting the University of Jordan to the street where CIEE is located. The tunnel contains many stores selling scarves, candy, and iPhone cases. Just above the tunnel exists a lone corn stand continually cooking the juicy vegetable in a large pot. The large billows of steam beckon hungry students on their way home from class. Flor and I each purchased a cup of corn for 1JD. I didn’t have high expectations, but it was well seasoned and delicious! It didn’t taste like traditional corn flavored by salt. The blend of Middle Eastern spices made it a truly unique snack.
Several students in the program purchase lunch from restaurants on a daily basis between classes. I typically pack my lunch as I view the take-out food like falafel and shwarma sandwiches as the Middle Eastern equivalent to Chipotle or McDonald’s. Just as I do in Denver, I try to eat as healthy as possible. “Organic” isn’t a term widely used in Jordan, so I have resorted to buying the much cheaper conventionally grown vegetables. Most of my dinners are composed of vegetables purchased from the small grocery store around the corner from our apartment.
I try to treat myself to local cuisine on the weekend, but it is usually expensive and extremely rich in flavor. Tomorrow we are going out to lunch during my Arabic class to practice our language skills when ordering. I will try to take pictures!