On Jordanian Hospitality

It’s not every day someone offers to find me a husband. But after two hours of conversation and a spectacular feast with a Jordanian host family, the mother assured me that if I ever came back to Jordan, I simply had to tell her my preferences she’d have a line of potential suitors waiting for me. Apparently being a “pretty American girl” with “great hair” makes me a hot commodity around these parts. So, I’ll be keeping that in my back pocket for the time being. (She was definitely mostly serious.)As part of our jam-packed week touring the SIT study abroad program here in Amman (the reason for my trip), we broke into small groups to have dinner with a student and their homestay family. The families prepared elaborate feasts, invited us into their homes, and demonstrated a degree of hospitality and warmth I’ve rarely encountered.

It’s become clear to me in the last two days that food is a huge part of Jordanian culture. Every meal (including coffee breaks) features at least twice as much food as any group of people could possibly polish off in one sitting. And it’s so good. I’m profoundly grateful I grew out of my picky eating neurosis, both because my 20 year-old self would have been miserable and I would have missed out on one of the best parts of the trip.

I regret not taking a picture of the smorgasbord at the homestay, but it felt like a more familial, personal experience than an opportunity for tourism. Didn’t make the same mistake at the restaurant for lunch today, though (pictured above)! And I’m seriously starting to wonder if I’ll ever feel hungry again… Normally I’m highly susceptible to hanger while traveling. But since we got here, I don’t think I’ve even come close to getting hungry.

We just came back from another feast – this one with Jordanians of Palestinian descent. And I’m full, and exhausted, and (mostly) happy. We’ve been going from roughly 8:00 am to 10:00 pm the past two days – with very little break, and it’s wearing thin for even this bubbly extrovert. It’ll be another early morning tomorrow, as we’re off to the Dead Sea and Petra. But that’s freakin’ exciting.

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