Food and Housing

Qasid is conveniently located to dozens of sit-down and fast food restaurants, making it convenient to grab a quick bit to eat before, after, or between classes. Food selection is rich, and the menu includes local fare (rotisserie chicken with rice, shawarma, shish tawook, and a great deal more), ethnic variety (Thai, Chinese, American, Pakistani, Tunisian), and health-conscious choices (vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic).

Times for breakfast and dinner normally fall outside the Institute’s hours of operation; during orientation, staff share a series of recommendations of what is available through nearby catering, restaurants, and supermarket shopping.

With respect to housing, the Qasid staff will find suitable housing based on the preferences indicated on each student’s housing application. The main options to choose from are dorm & suite-style units and private apartments. A comparison matrix and website showing photos of these options help each student select the option most suitable for him/her. Most housing coordinated through Qasid is located on a main street accessible to inexpensive public transport. Transport times to Qasid are usually no more than 5-7 minutes.

Those who choose not to secure advance housing and instead prefer to select their own accommodation can do so upon arrival; Qasid can introduce this latter group of students to a real estate agent, who will discuss the options available. Full details about housing options can be found here.


 

Feasting is a favorite pastime in the Middle East. It is also considered a conspicuous affair in local Jordanian society where, traditionally, immediate and extended families would gather together and share glorious meals lusciously served on large communal platters.

Jordanian food represents a healthy balance of grain, meat, dairy products and fresh produce. Heavily influenced by the “foodscape” of its surrounding Arab neighbors: Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, authentic Jordanian cuisine range from the grilling of meat and poultry; i.e. shish tawouks and kebabs, to vegetable-stuffing; such as grape leaves, bell peppers and eggplants.

Similar to other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, appetizers—known as mezze or muqabalat—are a significant part of local gastronomy. It is usually presented on a spread of small dishes that may include cheeses, salads, cucumbers, tomatoes, other greens, a complete range of vegetables cooked in olive oil or pickled.

The most popularly served appetizers is a puree of chick peas and sesame seeds, lemon and garlic; known ashumous. Fattoush salad, tabbouleh salad and koubbe (a cracked wheat-based delicacy) are also much liked, as well as the foul moudames (slow-cooked fava beans).

Shish taouks and kebabs consist of chunks of marinated lamb, chicken, beef and vegetables that are threaded into skewers and grilled on an open flame. Maqluba; a local casserole rendition, consists of rice, vegetables and meat served by inverting the baking dish onto a plate.

As quick meals and light snacks, Jordanians generally opt for shawarma; a piece of rolled flat bread filled with chicken or lamb strips, or falafel—pita bread sandwich filled with a mix of deep-fried chickpeas, spices, parsley and yogurt. It is also common for Jordanian families to start the day with falafels and humous. Adults and children can be spotted at local falafel vendors with Saran-wrapped plates of neatly spread humous,tahini and bags of falafels, especially early on weekends.

A discussion on Jordanian gastronomy, however, is not complete without mentioning mansaf, the national dish of Jordan.

Mansaf; a traditional Bedouin cuisine, consists of Arabic rice, a rich broth made from dry sour milk (jamid), and either lamb or chicken that has been seasoned with aromatic herbs. Large trays are covered with yogurt-infused flat Arabic bread and layers of rice; upon which meat is piled on, sprinkled with pine kernels and almonds.

Feasting on mansaf is no small affair since hours are spent in its preparations. It is commonly served on special occasions such as engagements and weddings, and is the greatest symbol in Jordanian culture for generosity, which is displayed in the amount of meat being served.

This delicacy is traditionally eaten collectively from a large communal dish by up to eight people who would stand around the platter. Guests would eat by hand; molding the rice into balls with their right, while placing their left hands behind their backs.

Sweet pastries and cookies are the main composition of Jordanian desserts. They are usually accompanied with very strong, heavily sugared cardamom-infused coffee, or tea, served in small cups.

Local dessert favorites include layers of phyllo dough and nuts drenched in syrup or honey (baklava), syrupy semolina cakes (basbousa), layers of phyllo dough and ricotta cheese (kunafa), and qatayif—cheese-filled little Arabic pancakes commonly served during the breaking-of-the-fast (iftar) meals in Ramadan.

If you’re interested in learning to cook local delicacies, here are excellent kitchens (i.e. cooking lessons) to start off with:

References:

  • Traditional Meals Feasting: Jordan’s Gastronomic Adventure, Oct. 8, 2010.
  • Shaheen, Leila. March/April 1965. “Manners in the Middle East,” Saudi Aramco World, Oct. 8, 2010.
  • Jordan’s Gastronomic Adventure, Oct. 8, 2010.
  • Eating the Jordanian Way Oct. 8, 2010.
  • Eating the Jordanian Way Oct. 8, 2010.
  • Mansaf Oct. 8, 2010.
  • Jordanian Cuisine, Oct. 8, 2010.
  • Traditional Meals Feasting: Jordan’s Gastronomic Adventure, Oct. 8, 2010.
  • Al-Assi, Robba. October, 2007. “Mansaf 101,” And Far Away Oct. 8, 2010.
  • “Jordan Food,” Oct. 8, 2010.