Friday mornings are kind of a ritual between Ahmad and I. We normally start with breakfast at Usra, our favourite little hummus place, before heading out for whatever it is we have planned. The last few weeks however, we have not been able to leave the city for various reasons from work to weather and illness.
Two weeks ago, Ahmad and I spotted a little place near Usra that we decided would be our next Friday breakfast. And try it we did. The place (in the picture on the left) is one of the cutest hummuseries I’ve seen in Amman so far, a tiny hole-in-the-wall with tables pressed along the walls of a narrow room that opens up a little more at the back. I had been really sick so I was starving for a good Jordanian breakfast.
The place really is adorable, with pictures on the wall expressing nostalgia and showing friendship between Palestinians and Circassians (according to Ahmad). Menus are nailed onto the wall on wooden bases beside each table (only in Arabic) so you don’t have to bother the waiter with your endless questions. The walls are also lined with wooden shelves holding endless jars of pickles and olives. The place quickly filled up soon after our arrival.
We sat down for the meal, excited at the prospect of being able to order from a seemingly expansive menu with more on offer than our regular place. Hummus, halloumi cheese, mufarrakeh, bread with zataar, and cauliflower baked with tahini. My mouth was watering as the dishes arrived… but the hummus was inedible. I took two bites and promptly pushed the dish to the other side. Ahmad finished it, declaring that it “tastes like it came from a can”.
The rest was okay, with the exception of the pita (which is really delicious) and the cauliflower in tahini, which is the best I have had so far. A coworker of mine told me that we had ordered the wrong dishes and that there are some excellent plates we should return to try, so we will do. The atmosphere itself means they deserve a second chance, and I love the tea served in the adorable, hand-painted tea pots!
Because I was still sick (in fact, at the time of writing I am STILL recovering from what the doctor thinks was a chest infection) and not physically well enough to go for a hike in Ajloun as I had initially wanted, we decided to try and find somewhere where we could either play or buy scrabble. The one board game cafe I found in Amman seems to have closed, and after finding that Scrabble costs an exorbitant amount here (66 dinars!) Ahmad put me in the car and proceeded to drive.
Next thing I knew, we were on the outskirts of Amman (don’t ask me where) surrounded by green. It was absolutely beautiful. We took a turn onto a small winding road through what looked like villages and small farm-land. There were people out everywhere, setting up their barbecues and getting ready for an afternoon in the sun with their families.
No one picnics quite like the Jordanians (or the people of the Levant, let’s say). They arrive with blankets, buckets of salad, chairs and tables, barbecues and skewers of meat. The breeze brings alternate whiffs of grilled food and fresh flowers to you. “Why don’t we stop here?” I asked when we reached large field almost yellow from all the flowers in bloom. Me, who normally hates to see a single person when I’m out in the countryside. I didn’t mind the presence of these family picnics.
“I want somewhere where there is no one,” Ahmad replied.
We continued to drive, down and up through the winding valleys green after the spring rains. Flowers in purple, white and yellow covered the sides of the road. We passed a few little bee hives set up not far off the road and continued on until we were back up onto the highway. Undeterred, Ahmad took another turn off and we rose up, through a small village and along an unpaved road until we reached a dead end where we parked and walked maybe 150 meters to sit on a smooth rock overlooking the hills. We sat down just as the call to prayer rose from the mosques around us and we absorbed everything around us.
I cannot think of a better or more peaceful way to have enjoyed my day off outdoors while still recovering from a nasty illness.