Hello dear readers! After arriving back from Jerash, we were ready – very ready – for our first falafel. We are falafel fans. Whether it’s a street cart in midtown Manhattan or a food truck in Paris, count us in! And we were so fortunate to be staying near one of best falafel joints in Amman, Hashem. With map in hand, we meandered through the narrow, downhill streets.
The city was bustling with each family preparing for breakfast (that’s what everyone called their ‘dinner’ that was ‘breaking the fast’ of Ramadan… it was funny to hear it referred to that way over and over.) And even though it was close to 95 degrees, and everyone had not eaten since 3:30AM, they were a resilient people dedicated to getting everything in order.
We came to the street corner where the map indicated the restaurant was located, but with so much signage on the street, and most of it in Arabic, you feel the swirl of confusion. We looked at the map, up and around, and back down to the map.
Behind us was an alleyway with tables and chairs. Seated out front, a man in a bisht began to attempt to get our attention saying ‘Alo! ALO!’
Under most circumstances, responding to a cloaked man trying to get your attention … in front of an alley would not be prudent.
‘Alo! You want Hashem? It is here! Why you no answer me?!’
We looked and it wasn’t an alleyway, it was a little street that connected to another little street with the restaurant right in the middle. We thanked him in Arabic (Shukran!) and walked down the mini street. We see many families sitting at tables, but no food being ordered, served or eaten. I mean, I was told there would be falafel! We ask the waiter if we can take a table. ‘Yes,’ he says, ‘but no serving until 19:45’… which was over an hour away! Ah yes, we forgot about Ramadan. But it was falafel we were talking about, and felt it was worth the wait.
And it was. (We ended up paying almost nothing for a falafel dinner feast, but the entertainment we experienced was free of charge and almost as delicious.) Family after family poured in the find their tables. Servers were running from the kitchen into a storage shed collecting utensils and placements and skated around each table placing it just so. Someone bolted to each waiter delivering aprons and hairnets, each donning with pride.
We were enthralled watching this symphony. Two lovely Jordanian women must have enjoyed watching us enjoying watching everyone else, so they motioned to us, and poured us some of their tea they brought from home into two cups. But as they gave it to us with a smile one said ‘Not yet!’ since the final call to prayer was still a few minutes off. We thanked them and out of respect waited some more.
And just like that, plate after plate began to be delivered to each table. At the outset, we didn’t know what to expect, would there be a menu? How do we order? No, none of that happens. They carry plates around and if you like, you take. First they delivered the pita, then the hummus, then the famed falafel, baba ghanoush, pickled veggies, and fatteh.
And with every table filled to the brink with food, not one person ate until the local mosque started the call to prayer. Showing respect for others and their customs we waited as well. Once the prayer started, they all casually began to eat in unison. I was unsure if it was really acceptable to eat and a man one table over gave me a nod as if to say ‘Now it’s time, eat.’ … and so we did. It was delicious! And the tea the 2 ladies shared with us, was a mixture of tea and coconut and pineapple, delicious again!
With all the waiting, you would think everyone would lounge about. But like dust in the wind, within 20 minutes the plates were empty, the checks were paid, and the families all left.
With overfull bellies, we paid our $7 bill and hailed a cab home. We had some packing to do since we were heading to our next destination the following day: the Feynan Eco Lodge. We arranged a driver with our host, and he recommended a stop at Wadi Mujib since it was on the way. I was overjoyed since I had wanted to visit the Wadi Mujib, but thought we wouldn’t be able to fit it in. Yippee! And another night, another slumber.
Up next time: come visit Wadi Mujib, wading through chest high water climbing over small rocks, big boulders and crushing waterfalls!