My housemates will vouch for me when I say that my cooking last year was sporadic, if improvisational at best. But I genuinely never thought I’d see the day when I sat down to dine on a dish of green scrambled eggs.
Of all the little aspects of day-to-day life in the Middle East, it surprises me that groceries that are some of the most fiddly things to come by. Not for want of availability – there’s plenty of fruit shops – but compared to other amenities, fruit and vegetables are annoyingly expensive. So far the only good deal we’ve come across are the watermelons: £1 a throw for a mammoth refresher that has kept at least five of us going for days. Oranges, quite unlike Morocco, are pricey and bitter. I guess it’s a seasonal thing, and it’s an established fact that Jordan has a serious water shortage crisis on its hands. So why the watermelons…? On the plus side, bread and hummus are cheap, and a falafel wrap at the local falafel joint is about 45p; a neat filler in the hours between iftar and suhuur when we would-be fasters are struggling to stay focused on the Arabic homework we’ve been set. Fasting and then studying for four hours in a row is intense: how these folks manage it is beyond me. I’d do it too, but I have the same issue with it as I do with going up for communion; that is, it’s little more than a gesture if I don’t really believe, and aping others without any heart strikes me as more than a little insincere. But what do I know?
Back to the green eggs and ham. So in the absence of fairly priced fruit and vegetables, our foodstuffs are a little lean for the time being. After last night’s almost tasteless scrambled egg attempt, Andrew had an unusual brainwave and threw in not just an overzealous garnish of salt but also the contents of two thyme tea bags. The salt levels may have been enough to give the Dead Sea a run for its money, but the thyme was a good move. At least it tasted of something this time around. The cutlery looks like it was last used to fish something out of the gutter, so we stuck to using the bread as a primitive fork. Between that, the kettle that turns itself on and off every five seconds and the building site next door, it’s hard to say we’ve got a good deal. But rolling out of bed in the morning to class in the building next door is pretty jammy, I’ll give you that.
Another hour of techno-assisted vocab busting and it’ll be time for suhuur. At half a dinar a throw, I’m game for another falafel wrap. Between them and the utter majesty that is Habiiba Confectionary, it’ll be a bitter war between my stomach and my teeth. The vegetable relief force better not be too long in coming. BB x
(Spoiler Alert: the meal below, scrambled eggs and okra, was our suhuur version and infinitely better. The aforementioned dish was literally green)