In Jordan, Food has Spirit

Lydia Shippen is a student at University of North Carolina, Wilmington and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with her Arabic professor at UNC Wilmington. Lydia is currently studying in Amman, Jordan on a Fall 1 program.

Food is an art here in Jordan.  There is even an Arabic phrase, “Akul Al-Nafas” that means “food of spirit.”   This is used when someone cooks their food with a lot of spirit, love, and character.  A tremendous amount of time and care is taken throughout every step of the process, from washing the food, to cooking it, and then finally to eating the meal.  The passion behind cooking is something that I have seen and experienced in the United States, but in Jordan it takes on a new meaning.  The spices are plentiful, the fruits and vegetables are fresh and organic, and in my opinion everything tastes richer.

This is the ISA students with Balqees, our Arabic professor, enjoying our home-cooked family dinner!

The other day, my Arabic professor came over to my apartment so that she could give us a cooking lesson.   She taught us how to make Kabseh, a rice and chicken dish, but it is very complicated so I will not describe it here.  Instead, I will tell you how to make an Arabic salad.  It is simple and oh so delicious!

Depending on how big of a salad you want to make, then you will need to adjust the numbers of vegetables in the recipe below.  I would suggest using about 1 of each of the fruits/vegetables per person.

A sampling of the fruits and veggies for this recipe.

Tomato (Bandora) بندورة
Cucumber (Khiar) خيار
Romaine Lettuce (Khas)   خسّ
Parsley (Baqdoones)   بقدونس
Mint (Na3na3) نعنع
Bell Pepper (Flehfleh) فليفلة
Lemon (Laimoon)   ليمون
Olive Oil (Zait Zaitoon)  زيت زيتون
Salt (Mele7)  ملح

This is what the end product will look like.

Wash and dice all of the fruits/vegetables.  For the mint and the parsley, use a small “bunch,” or handful, per person.  Also dice the lettuce, mint, and parsley.  Mix the ingredients together then drizzle the salad with olive oil and lemon juice.  Salt to taste and, if you want, add toppings of your choice (pita chips, almonds, raisins, etc.).

Then enjoy!

Don’t you just want to eat it all? I do.

Author: Lydia Shippen

I am a double major in Spanish and International Studies, but I decided that knowing Spanish was not enough. And so began the long journey to learn Arabic that has led me on a road to Amman, Jordan!

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