Today, I went to the food court in the mall near my work. It is only couple of minutes away. While I was having my lunch at MacDonald’s I noticed two different tables. On both the tables there were a father and his son having lunch. If you are not from the Middle East, you may not find anything abnormal in this observation. In Jordan, this is something new to the culture.
I want to mention that schools are on holiday these days. Therefore, it is normal that the kids are out of school at noon.
Because I got used to eating out alone I engage myself trying to figure out other people’s lives, sometimes.
I don’t know what the fathers situation here, but it was something that I took notice of.
Jordan used to be husband at work and wife at home. It is no longer the situation now. Although, both parents work it is still the responsibility of the wife to take care of the children. Basically, doing everything a stay-at-home mom does because not many Jordanian men like to do any house chores.
Another thing that is new to the culture is the increasing number of divorce cases.
These men could be divorced and today is their day with the child.
Or the Jordanian father is now sharing the responsibilities of raising children since he is now no longer the only one putting food on the table.
Or maybe with the rising unemployment rate, these two men could be having some quality time with their kid while waiting their next opportunity.
In a working day, it is unusual to see a man with his son having lunch at noon in a mall. This is of course very normal in other big cities but not here in Amman. This just shows how the demographic and the culture of Jordan is changing.
Our dear neighbor lost their daughter last week. As I mentioned in a previous post, receiving condolences in Jordan takes place at the tribe’s guesthouse (Madafa). Sometimes, for different reasons, a tent is used instead of the guest house to receive condolences.
Our neighbor rented the tent and everything inside it for the occasion which lasts three days.
The tent is dedicated to men. Women go to the deceased’s family house.
The norm is not to go alone. Friends and relatives will go together to give condolences. They will be offered coffee and dates.
Such tents are still widely used in Jordan for different occasions. During parliamentary or municipality elections candidates rent such tents for weeks for their supporters. They are also used for banquets and weddings.
I think Middle Eastern food is one of the best cuisines in the world. It is diverse with a mix of Indian, Persian, European and its own. Unfortunately, most Middle Eastern dishes require long time of preparation. That is why you hardly find a good Middle Eastern dish at restaurants beside Falafel, Humus, Baba Ghanouj and Mashawi (barbecued meat).
Another reason why there is a wide variety of Arabic dishes cooked at home, but almost nothing at restaurants has to do with culture. Arabs prefer home cooked meals than restaurants food. A habit that seems to change rapidly with more Arab women working now than ever before.
A new business even emerged, to serve families with working parents, called “Kitchen.” A business that hardly existed, at least in Jordan, fifteen years ago. These new “Kitchen” businesses are not restaurants, their food is served at customers’ houses. They cook all homemade dishes that housewives used to cook. Usually, these meals require time to prepare and cook. A time that a working wife and/or mother don’t have nowadays.
Many Jordanian women use the service of these “Kitchens” when they host friends or families. Instead of buying food from restaurants which don’t offer home-cooked dishes, a woman will call her favorite “Kitchen” and order food for 10 or 20 people. Another reason why these “Kitchens” are getting popular is because they are managed by a woman or maybe two in a house instead of a restaurant. Hence, people feel their food is like homemade food.
These “Kitchens” even make Eid’s deserts which usually keep women busy for two to three days preparing and baking them. The pastries in the picture above are made by my mother, not from a “Kitchen.”
Stuffed zucchini, stuffed grape leaves, Kibbeh (if you haven’t eaten this before, I pity you), Moajanat (pastires filled with meat/cheese/spinach), Mansaf (a traditional Jordanian dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with rice) and many more are food usually ordered from these “Kitchens.” Preparing and cooking any of these require hours of preparations and cooking/baking.