Egypt has hummus sometimes, but Jordan has a lot more hummus. I like hummus, but Tara loves hummus, so this was good news for her. For those who have no idea what hummus is, it is chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), and olive oil blended with some other herbs and seasonings. Normally eaten on pita bread or as part of a sandwich. Here is the first hummus we bought in Jordan to eat in the Wadi Rum desert area because the restaurant selection was limited to one place that served one thing...And here is that one thing. In Jordan, they really like french fries on their sandwiches. This place made sandwiches with hummus, fried eggplant, french fries, and other salad. Pretty good and much, much cheaper than the food at the hotel where we were staying.
The owner of the restaurant also helped us book a day tour, so he provided us with lots of free tea. Jordanian tea is inspired by the nomads of the desert and has nice herbs, unlike the boring Lipton of Egypt. On the day that we drank these, we counted nine glasses of free tea consumed.
The yogurt of Jordan is apparently thicker than in many countries and the most popular flavor is plain. Tara seemed to enjoy it.
Jordan has lots of sweet shops. Fresh sweets come in two main varieties--soft and warm or harder and long lasting. The soft and warm look like baklava and related pastries that we really like. However, we were unpleasantly surprised to find that they are all filled with a weird cream-cheesy like substance. Tara loves cream cheese, but she still found these less than good.
The best part of the warm sweets is the vat of goo that they scoop over them. It seems to be a mix of honey (or maybe just sugar), rosewater, and some other spices. It makes everything taste a little better and every sweets shop has one of these steaming vats. Due to the high cost of food compared to Egypt (just wait until we get to Israel...), we resorted to our old friend, polony. At least that was what it was called in French speaking countries. Americans know it as baloney, but it is normally a little higher quality than American baloney. And it comes in fun flavors like garlic or pepper. For only a couple of dollars, dinner is served.Tara discovered these sesame-oregano breads in Jordan that she loves. We doubt they are Jordanian--probably originally from Syria or Lebanon, but she is still sad that Jordan was the only country that we were allowed into that had these.
In Jordan, they have "Strawberry" Fanta. Despite being the red color that normally equals horrible for Fanta, we were dumb enough to buy it. "Strawberry" is the same as Latin America's Rojo flavor, which is terrible. More like bubble gum than strawberry, but you can't even blow bubbles with it.
Despite the less than great warm sweets in Jordan, they make amazing baklava like pastries that are not quite as moist and sticky as normal baklava. They are more expensive, but are really amazing. And Jordanians are so friendly that they would always give us samples of different ones to try in the shop.
We were walking down the street one night when we saw this guy scooping what appeared to be a gelatinous white paste into a bowl and covering with a motor-oil looking sauce. In the 30 seconds that we were considering buying it, about 10 people ran up to the guy and bought some, so we thought it best to do the same. It was a coconut like jelly with some sweet sauce. Tara loved it, and I thought that it was decent.
While waiting for the bus to the Israel border, a guy was selling sweets. This one looked like a churro, one of Tara's favorites, but it turned out to be a semolina filled fried thing. A bit like a giant log of cous cous with sugar added. Not bad at all, and it was the last cheap sweets that we got before entering the land of the Chosen, who are also all apparently rich.
Our favorite falafel shop in Jordan was a place in Amman where we ate about five times over three days. They put a spicy sauce on them that made them excellent and they were very cheap. The upstairs, which is where we ate when the two downstairs tables were full, had a ceiling almost exactly the height of my head.
After arriving to Israel and getting over the shock of expensive transport and expensive hotels, it was time to deal with the expensive food. We walking around only to find that the food was even more overpriced than everything else. So, we went to a little grocery store, where we opted for a loaf of bread, a tub of hummus, and a yogurt for Tara. Total bill: $11. We did have enough hummus and bread left to eat it for breakfast the next morning, though! We had similar meals on several other evenings.
Day two in Israel: to have the same hummus dinner or something better? We opted for a liter of ice cream and a local fruit drink. The fruit drink was essentially an extra sugary nectar. After eating it, we decided that we made the right decision for dinner.
On Day 3, we were saved by the discovery of cheap knock-off candy bars at the market. At 30 cents each, these were the cheapest candy bars we had seen in a long time. We tried one and found it to be remarkably Bounty-like. Then we bought 10 more. Thanks, guy in the market who sells cheap candy!
Tara felt like we had saved so much on our candy that she could afford to shell out a couple of dollars for Reese's Cups, which are near the top of the list of things that she misses most from the US. Israel is the second place we have ever seen Reese's Cups, with the other being a random store on the Peru-Bolivia border where they cost about $10. It made her day, and the one that I got made me pretty happy, too.
Challah bread is often seen being sold in Israel, and we had to try some. We bought a whole wheat version, which I thought was okay, but Tara thought tasted bad compared to most Challah. We therefore counsel not to buy whole wheat challah.
We discovered that Israel had orange-mango Fanta, but it only ever seemed to come in giant size. Soda is only slightly more expensive than in the US, so when we were thirsty one day, we decided to buy one. The mango is largely obscured by the orange, but the fake mango is just strong enough to detract from the tasty artificial orange. So, Tara quickly declared that she hated it, but I wasn't in love with it, either. We finished it, but it required me holding Tara down and pouring it down her throat.
On our final night, we decided to go to a fancy restaurant. The most upscale place that we could afford was the corner deli, where we sprung for a pastrami sandwich to split between the two of us. Was probably about on par with a Subway sandwich. Maybe just a bit better.