Reflections on Jordan

My two weeks in Jordan gave me some significant insight into myself.  Jordanians are possibly the most food obsessed people on the planet.  And my father is Jordanian, so it’s no wonder then, that I go on and on about food; it’s in my genes.
Jordanians are either eating, talking about eating or thinking about what they are gong to eat.  To this end, the provenance of their food is very important.  Not in the conscious way that it is in Europe in the minds of the nutritionally educated but in an inherent instinctual way.

Most things are organic because the land is rich enough to produce unaided and because industrial farming is, for the most part, not present.

A lot of families have an olive grove somewhere, or maybe a few trees or perhaps know of a few trees that they can plunder so that they can take their olives to a communal press and have their own olive oil made.  (And here I thought my mother’s friend from Crete was extreme, eschewing supermarket olive oil because ‘they put stuff in it” in favour of giant cans she would bring back to Athens with her from her village in Chania).

I risked paying a fine for excess luggage and lugged back a 3kg bag of Terra Rossa, hand-picked, extra virgin olive oil (0.8 % acidity).

If you want chicken, you go to the butchers, point at the live specimen which is quickly and efficiently dispatched to chicken heaven.  

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Chicken in Lemon Syrup with ras el hanout and harissa paste

I am not particularly gifted when it comes to meat cooking. In fact, I would say it’s my weakest area.  Some of the blame for that has to be attributed to the sub-standard meat available to the consumer.  You just need to take one bite of Michy’s Churrasco, and you instantly remember that “oh yeah” - this is what meat should taste like!  But the majority of it is all me.

I have a deft hand with poultry though and no doubt it helps that I have less performance anxiety.

I steer clear of animal during the week, having labeled myself with the moniker “a weekday vegetarian”.  Primarily to reduce my impact on the environment (thereby feeling virtuous) and because I love vegetables and pulses so it’s easy.

A it’s the weekend, I made this great chicken recipe out of Jason Atherton‘s book Maze: the cookbook.  I like this book as it has some truly original recipes including one for chicken poached in 1 kg of butter! (Love that! Don’t you?  And then we wonder how, some, restaurants make everything taste so good?!)  Here, Atherton has us making up a stock syrup, throwing in 5 lemons and a head of garlic poaching the chicken briefly then pan frying it.  The result is the chicken is sweet and spicy with crunchy skin and a fragrant red oil that goes particularly well with some simple green beans. (Although, my all time favourite chicken lemon recipe comes from Maggie Beer and I wrote about it here).  Read more of this post

Henne - The Chicken Place

I had been looking forward to eating at Henne for literally months!  I read about it in the Lonely Planet guide to Berlin and the quirkiness of a place that served just chicken intrigued me to no end.  It must be really good chicken!  If they have managed to keep their doors open for 100 years and haven’t caved in and offered a vegetarian option or some pork (in the land where pork is king). Read more of this post


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