Eating My Way Round The World: Christmas in Jordan
As we start a new monthly series of themed posts, I thought we’d take a break from my usual ‘seven decades of’ pieces and go for something a little different. And as food has always been one of my favourite subjects, I thought we’d do a gastronomic trip around the world, as I think back on some of the more memorable meals I’ve eaten during my travels.
I’m going to start in the Middle East, in Jordan, to be precise. Back in 1999, I was involved in a number of European Union funded projects helping the country’s human and animal medicine factories to improve their quality in order to be able to export of Europe and the US. It was December; I finished work just before Christmas and my husband Michael flew out to Amman to join me. We figured we would catch some winter sunshine for a change. Oh, and I forgot to mention, it was in the middle of Ramadan.
On Christmas Eve, we were strolling along the road near our hotel, when a taxi pulled up beside us and the driver offered us a trip in a glass-bottomed boat. “Not today,” Michael said; “maybe tomorrow.” Well, that was it. Within a few seconds we had somehow promised to meet a total stranger on Christmas morning and let him take us goodness knows where. Over the next few hours, we had a few misgivings, but decided to trust our new friend and honour our promise.
The next morning, at the appointed time, our new friend took us on a short drive to the beach and handed us over to a very wrinkled old man with only one tooth, and a young boy. They led us to a small boat, helped us in and we were away. We saw an old World War II tank in the centre of the bay; we saw corals and fish of all different colours. And at lunchtime, our hosts served us freshly-baked fish from a beach BBQ and salad in a plastic washing up bowl, before withdrawing to fast and chat back on the boat. We sat on the beach in sight of four countries: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt and ate one of the best and most memorable Christmas lunches ever. Our trust had definitely been repaid.