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What We Ate in Amman

Here it comes, another food post.  We often feel foolish reaching for our cameras before reaching for our forks, but we hope you enjoy the results.  This post is a little different than the rest; it’s organized by restaurant.

—–

Quarter Moon Shawarma

Tony and shawarma

Our first meal in Jordan was between Queen Alia Airport and our friends’ apartment.

Quarter Moon shawarma

Can’t beat shawarma for a great late night fast food option.

 

—–

Hashem Restaurant, a dive-y place downtown that is famous for serving delicious cheap Middle Eastern food.  Sit on their grungy plastic chairs and have a personal revelation.


Matabel

Matabel, some sort of creamy eggplant wonderfulness.

 

Fuul - tangy, spicy beans swimming in olive oil and herbs.

 

Hummus

Hummus.

 

Falafel

Falafel.

Falafel... stuffed with roasted onions and rolled in toasted sesame seeds.

More falafel… this time stuffed with roasted onions and rolled in toasted sesame seeds.

Hot tea with sugar and fresh mint

Hot tea with sugar and fresh mint.

—–

 

Al Quds was where our friends decided to take us for some mansaf, Jordan’s national dish.

 

Mansaf

Mansaf is staple at weddings, celebrations, and for honoring important guests.  If I had to draw a parallel between this and an American dish, it would be Grandma’s perfect Sunday pot roast.  Not at all similar in flavor, but in sentiment.

 

Mansaf sauce

Wikipedia describes mansaf: ”The lamb is cooked in a broth made with a fermented then dried yogurt-like product called jameed, and served on a large platter with a layer of flatbread (markook or shrak) topped with rice and then meat, garnished with almonds and pine nuts, and then sauce poured over all.”

 

More matabel

More matabel.

 

More hummus

More hummus.


—–

Mahashi takeout from Ali’s Mahashi-Al Mashi.

 

Mahashi al Mashi takeout

The little aluminum boxes aren’t the most photogenic, but there was no way we would skip over this.

 

Mahashi plated

Mahashi is eggplant, zucchini, cabbage… all stuffed with minced meat and rice and vegetables, stewed in spicy tomato and yogurt sauces. Sides: piles of rice and flatbread and an avalanche of pickled vegetables.  Ali is generous with his portions.

—–


Mawwal Restaurant
– a nice sit-down place with waiters who will be very concerned for the state of your mental health if you don’t order enough meat.

 

Fire roasted tomatoes and chiles

Fire roasted tomatoes and chiles. Super spicy.

Fattoush

Fattoush salad – greens and vegetables topped with fried flatbread and a vinaigrette dressing.

 

Kebbeh maklieh

 Kebbeh maklieh – deep fried cracked bulgur wheat stuffed with minced lamb and herbs.

 

Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh – loads of parsley with mint, tomato, lemon juice and bulgur.

 

Baba ghanoush

Baba ghanoush- roasted eggplant, vegetables and chilis, tahini and garlic, topped with vinaigrette.

 

Galayet Bandora

Galayet Bandora - stewed lamb, tomatoes and onions.

 

Kofta Bi Tahini 

Kofta Bi Tahini - ground lamb and herb patties in a velvety sesame sauce.

 

—–

Habibeh pastry shop.

kunefe cheese

Habibeh (literally, “beloved”) will provide for you na’ama kunefe.  This kunefe is finely chopped pastry dough, topped with soft white cheese, topped with more pastry, drenched in syrup and garnished with pistachios and orange food coloring.

 

kunefe alley

Best eaten hot, on a styrofoam plate in Habibeh’s alley.

—–

And finally, Bang Bang Bubble Tea House at a mall in West Amman near the Seventh Circle.

Bubble tea and complimentary peanut butter waffles.  Ok, maybe it’s not so traditional, but Amman is a modern city, and that’s what we all had that night.

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Nov 2012
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Exploring Amman

Homemade Jordanian flag

Our friends Cody and Vanessa moved to Amman in August this year to study Arabic. Back when we were all still in Iowa City, we had talked about maybe going through Jordan to see them on our year of wandering, but it didn’t seem like the timing was going to work out. And then those cheap Royal Jordanian flights started popping up and suddenly our path to Asia took a new direction.

Satellite dishes

Amman is a city of 1.5 million people. About one quarter of its residents are Iraqi, Palestinian, Sudanese, Somalian, and (more recently) Syrian refugees. The terrain is hilly, the climate is desert, and the official religion is Islam. After chilly Berlin, the blue skies, dry air and temperatures in the upper 70′s were so welcome.

Amman side street with blue truck

Rapid population growth means that the city is a constant swirl of dust and traffic with examples of prosperity and poverty elbow-to-elbow. You can buy fresh produce from a roadside stand or a souk or you can buy a value meal from McDonalds or KFC. You might see goats being grazed in an empty lot in the middle of the city accompanied by a shepherd wearing a polo shirt, or you might see a guy with a python around his neck at a street fair.

Python at street festival

urban goats

McDonalds

Everything is tan and square for as far as the eye can see, but that makes the flowers and palms and mosques and rare youthful artistic flourishes seem even more stunning.

East Amman homes

View of the Roman Theater from the Citadel

sand colored city

pink flowers

blue flowers

Amman mosque

Stairway graffiti

Since the city expanded so rapidly, it’s an urban planning nightmare. There are broken sidewalks, curbs two feet high at pedestrian crossings, few traffic signals, and each roundabout approach is prefaced with an official U-turn lane because the most roads are purposefully constructed to allow only right turns. Horns and exhaust fumes are constant. Many travelers spend only a day or two in Amman before heading off to more exotic locations, and you can mostly understand why.

Traffic, downtown Amman

Construction site, West Amman

Late afternoon

The major highlights of Amman can be “done” in less than a day, starting at the top of Jabal al-Qal’a (the Hill of the Citadel) to see the ruined Temple of Hercules and Umayyad Palace, then down to the Roman theater below, on to the souks and shopping streets downtown, then a stop at one of the dozens of Western-style cafes on Rainbow Street.

Squinty

Temple of Hercules

Tony at Temple of Hercules

Umayyad Palace

Column detail, Temple of Hercules

Alicia at Umayyad Palace

Roman Theater

Ammann souk

Pickled everything

Sugarcane juicer

Shopping downtown

Feather dusters

Downtown Amman

Rainbow Street sign

Juice shop on Rainbow St.

After nearly two weeks in Amman, we were feeling comfortable with the city. Dust, fumes, late night celebratory gunshots, crazy cab rides and all. The sounds seeped into us in a familiar rhythm. The constant jingle of what might be an ice cream truck constantly patrolling the neighborhoods. (It’s actually a truck filled with propane tanks for residential stoves.) The repetitive loudspeaker shouts of another truck slowly rolling through the neighborhoods. Let your imagination run wild and it might be mistaken for an angry tirade of someone inciting revolution. (They’re actually letting you know that they’re selling cabbages and onions and stuff.)

Propane truck

And of course, the most “other” sound of all: the five times daily call to prayer. In Turkey it would vary from city to city and from mosque to mosque. In Amman it had its own aura that, with our limited experience, we can only describe as “not Turkish” yet as beautiful as our favorite call from of The New Mosque in Istanbul. Its a sound that we will miss as we continue our journey eastward.

Mosque

We really loved our time in the Middle East. All the wonderful food, the sights, the sounds… most of the smells. We hope we can experience it all again someday.

(Watch our video of a rolling vegetable vendor, the souk, and the call to prayer in downtown Amman)

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Nov 2012
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Our Home Away from Home in Amman

Midnight, about to leave for the airport

Our time in Amman was so refreshing. (This photo was taken at midnight right before we got in the cab to go to the airport, so disregard how tired we all look.  And our matching outfits.) It was fun to be a completely different culture when we left Cody and Vanessa’s apartment, but being in their home was almost like coming back to America for a little bit. We didn’t cram too much busyness into the two weeks. The main activities were just hanging out with Cody and Vanessa and their girls while they went about their daily lives.

C + V's apartment building

Urban goats

Aubie cat

We ate peanut butter and jelly and Kraft mac and cheese and burgers and burritos and watched The Little Mermaid dubbed in Arabic. We did laundry and played with their kittens and slept in late. Alicia participated in many elaborate imagination sessions of Sparkle Princess Sisters.

Sparkle Princess Sisters

Ella's gumball

Ella goofing off on the roof

More Ella goofing off on the roof

Ella and Simone on the roof

Fearless Ella

Besides hosting us for nearly two weeks (with just as much advance notice!), Cody and Vanessa gave us their own bedroom, kept us well fed AND set us up with five hours of private Arabic lessons at their language school, the Latin American Cultural Center (not a typo – you can learn Español and English there, too).  What?  Too, too much, but that’s how they roll.

Arabic notebook

Arabic teacher Nancy

Latin American Cultural Center

We learned about 70 basic nouns and pronouns, including greetings and numbers. It was awesome to dabble in another language and the experience made us really interested in pursuing some sort of language learning when we get home next year. Inshallah!

Foreigners on Parade

Ella's photography

Shukran, Cody and Vanessa! Baaraka Allahu fik!

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Berlin to Bangkok… via Amman

Back when we were Prague, we were trying to figure out flights. Depending on how you interpret the Schengen Zone border control regulations for tourists, we either had to get out by October 29 or by November 30, but we were getting cold were feeling anxious to leave Europe for warmer (and much less expensive) lands.

Mecca on the seatback map

Our favorite airfare search engines, Skyscanner and ITA Matrix, were all pointing to Bangkok as the destination, with the cheapest flights leaving from either Prague or Berlin. Almost everyone we had met over the several months prior said that Berlin was their favorite city ever so that cemented our plans to head to Germany.

A thunderstorm over Turkey altered our flight path

And of all the flights from Berlin to Bangkok, Royal Jordanian had the best prices.  Their flights had layovers in their hub, Amman.

Hey, we have friends in Amman.

One Skype call later to confirm that it was ok to invite ourselves over, and we had our Berlin to Bangkok tickets booked… with a 13 day layover in Jordan.

Almost to Amman

After spending two months of our summer in Turkey, which is a predominantly Muslim country, we thought Jordan would be pretty similar. In some ways it was. In other ways, it was a whole new world.

Amman McDonald's

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What we ate in Budapest, Prague and Berlin

We decided to combine the food from our final three European cities into one post. While the cuisines were different, you may notice some similarities.

BUDAPEST

Goulash and pickled cabbage.

Goulash and pickled cabbage

Roasted mushrooms.

Roasted mushrooms

Sausage, mustard, bread, beer. Truly enhanced by the cardboard plate. Lemony túrós táska pastries for dessert.

Sausage, mustard, bread, beer.  Truly enhanced by the cardboard plate.

Stuffed cabbage.

Stuffed cabbage

A typical food vendor’s stall at the Great Market Hall.

A typical food vendor's stall at the Great Market Hall

Bacon wrapped cheese.

Bacon wrapped cheese

Purely medicinal. (Think of a more herbal, concentrated version of Jaegermeister.)

Unicum

We did spend six weeks with some Aussies. It was inevitable.

Vegemite

PRAGUE

Roast pork with stewed spinach and dumplings.

Roast pork with stewed spinach and dumplings

Chicken-bacon-veg skewer on a baguette.

Chicken-bacon-veg skewer on a baguette

Potatoes, cabbage, sausage, stewed in dark beer.

Potatoes, cabbage, sausage, stewed in dark beer

Goulash in bread bowl.

Goulash in bread bowl

Pork neck, parsley potatoes, homemade pickles.

Pork neck, parsley potatoes, homemade pickles

Goulash (mostly liver, some beef) and dumplings.

Goulash (mostly liver, some beef) and dumplings

Dumplings with carmelized onions.

Dumplings with carmelized onions

Skvarková pomázanka pečivo – an oniony spread made with “scratchings” (fat).

Massive banana and Nutella palačinky.

Massive banana and Nutella palačinky

Some sort of rotisserie doughnuts sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

Some sort of rotisserie doughnuts sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon

Yeast pivo.

Yeast beer

Grizzly pivo from Pivovar Berounský Medved.

Grizzly - Pivovar Berounský Medved

BERLIN

Currywurst.

Currywurst round 1

Currywurst with fries.

Currywurst round 2

…after that cholesterol endurance marathon, we were done with the “authentic” food and moved on to Berlin’s multicultural cuisine. We’re sure Germany has much more to offer than a weiner swimming in some spicy ketchup, but it was time for other things.

Fresh breakfasts at Cafe V.

The

Cafe V breakfast

Cafe V scrambled eggs

Roasted eggplant and falafel.

Roasted eggplant and falafel

Schwarma, hummus, salad, falafel.

Schwarma, hummus, salad, falafel

Tofu and veg.

Tofu and veg

Pho.

Pho

Pad Thai.

Pad Thai

Rocket, feta and tomato gozleme wraps from the Turkish market.

Rocket, feta and tomato gozleme wraps

Dessert? Candy coated grapes, also from the Turkish market.

Candy coated grapes

Carrot cake and cappuccino.

Carrot cake and cappuccino

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Nov 2012
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Let’s All Go to Berlin

READY, SET, GO

Berlin transit map

Train pulling in at Turmstrasse

Red man = stop!

Green man = go!

Kotbusser Tor station

Kirfurstenstrasse

Sky and Alicia on the U-Bahn

Tony and Leah on the U-Bahn

Mirror shot

GOLDEN DAYS OF FALL

Victory column

Tony and Leah at a cafe

Dortmunderstrasse

Alicia and Leah at a cafe

Purple turban lady

boat cleaners on the Spree

Empty bottles

Yellow flowers

Cafe V's sidewalk

Cafe V's yellow tree

Cafe V's breakfast

Green and red ivy street

Red vines

ART IS INEVITABLE AND UNAVOIDABLE

Fist

Mural

cannibalism?

I <3 Berlin

Llamas

Hungry mural

Peace stencil

Lounging sculpture

Apple tree

Apple tree - closer inspection

Orange leaves over the Wall

Buy your happiness

Plague mask graffiti

They all love you

Love art mural

Tony at Berlin MOMA

Ok! stencil

THEN IT GOT COLD

Socks purchased

Sky's wardrobe

Guy with bikes

Friedrichstrasse

Flowers and coffee

MAKING WARM THINGS

Yarn store

Yarn for sale

Leah crocheting

JUST LOOKING: TURKISH MARKET – FLEA MARKET – SECOND HAND

Tony did not buy this hat

1981 plaque

funky interior

Canal behind the Turkish market

Turkish market

Flowers for sale

Flea market food court

REMNANTS AND REMEMBRANCES OF THE PAST

Jewish History Museum

Thumbs up

Small people - small things
Terrier on the Wall

Drinking coffee at the Wall
Checkpoint Charlie

You are leaving the American Sector

More walls to tear down

Wireframe church

Public art

Holocaust Memorial - vertical

Holocaust Memorial - sky

Holocaust Memorial - stairs

DIAMOND ROAD SHOW

Diamond Road Show

Diamond Road Show - projector setup

Diamond Road Show - red

FAREWELL, SISTERS

The Four

AUF WIEDERSEHEN, BERLIN

Brandenburg Gate - Festival of Lights

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Pivovar Berounský Medved

In Prague, we met up with Anna, whom we met in Sarajevo.  Anna is from the States and is teaching English in Prague. She was very kind to let us hang with her and her friends, plus she took us on a short train ride for an afternoon at the brewery in Beroun.

We’re not always very good of remembering to take pictures of the people we’re with, so here’s Anna petting a puppy in Sarajevo:

Anna

Anyway, back to the brewery. Apparently if you end up in a scrap yard and think you’ve taken a wrong turn, then you’re almost there. Maybe that’s a metaphor for life.

brew bear

Walking to the brewery

restaurant sign on truck

Pivovar Berounský Medved

the beverages

Pivovar Berounský Medved - hops decor

After enjoying a refreshing pint of birthday pivo (it was Tony’s birthday) and some meaty Czech food, we went back outside to explore the scrap yard a bit.

scrap yard

Here’s an old Trabant, an East German car made out of plastic.

Trabant - East German car made of plastic.

Just a tank. No biggie.

tank

And an old Skoda truck.

Old Skoda truck

We picked apples from a tree down the street. They were crisp and perfect.

apple tree

On the way back to Prague, we hopped off the train at Karlstejn to check out the castle.

Karlstejn train station

hot air balloon

Berounka River

Karlstejn Castle

Karlstejn grounds

trees changing colors

hillside

It was a wonderful fall day.   Crisp air with wood smoke in the breeze, changing leaves, a castle, a train ride, a cozy brewery, and time with friends.

Thanks Anna!  (Go read Anna’s blog, Two Wheels Good, about her cycling adventures in Prague.)

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Nov 2012
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Autumn Arrives in Prague

After almost two terrific weeks in Budapest, Leah and Sky came with us to Prague and we spent our time doing our usual travel habits of wandering the city, having coffee in cafes, eating too many pastries, and taking a million photos.  We also visited a lot of second hand stores because fall was solidly upon us and most of our clothes were for summer weather.

Our Lady of Tyn

Wenceslas Square

St. James Basilica

beehive

Astronomical Clock

old vines

Basilica of St. Peter and Paul

Basilica of St. Peter and Paul - interior

Vyšehrad Cemetery

feeding swans

Leah and Sky

Swans from above

waterfront afternoon

Wallenstein Garden from afar

Wallenstein Garden

Tony at the Lennon Wall

Lennon Wall

Charles Bridge

Dancing House

Beautiful, right?  Prague had plenty of the unconventional, too.

Street performers advertising for a brand of paint.

little green men

The best one man band we’ve ever seen.

One man band

Bizarre art.

science plaque

guns

Shark - Saddam

ballerina on the wall

Giant babies

Familiar looking license plates at the flea market.

license plates

Snowboarding at the flea market.

snowboard hill

And the Infant of Prague – a baby Jesus statue with a whole wardrobe of elaborately embroidered gowns.

Infant of Prague

Buy your own replica for home!

Infant of Prague gift shop

We also found an Indian cafeteria style restaurant that had wonderful food and sold whatever they had left at a 50% discount if you arrived an hour before closing.  We ate there… a lot.

Leah and Sky

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