Wednesday of last week, Rabia and I were invited to another Iftar with another member of Hiba’s large family. We spent the evening at Hiba’s mother’s sister’s (this distinction important in Arabic culture) beautiful house in an area a few kilometers outside of Amman. The 55 cent bus we took there took us outside of the city and Rabia and I kept looking around nervously worrying that we had taken the wrong bus or we had missed our stop, but we made it, after asking the bus driver and locals multiple questions that we couldn’t understand the answers to – they spoke a more rural type of colloquial. The ambiance of our meal was different than the previous Iftar at Hiba’s house – we ate outside where the family had planted a variety of flowers and fruit trees. And in true Arabic storytelling fashion, I will explain the most important thing first – what we ate.
There were small bowls of salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and mint in sauce, there was handmade tomato puree sauce that tasted delicious in rice, and another giant dish of rice with spices, raisins and grapes, there was roasted chicken and french fries and there was baked fish with salad greens. We broke their fast by each eating the traditional date, and were each handed two entire pieces of pita by Hiba’s uncle (these would be followed by two more pieces of pita).
The couple’s oldest son lived with his wife and 8 month old girl in the apartment above his parent’s house, so there was another adorable baby for us to play with. In a house with 3 sons, (rather than Hiba’s family of 1 son and 5 daughters), it was really interesting to observe the cultural differences and similarities that exist between sons and daughters. The greeting that the 16 and 19 year old sons had to their parents when they came home, and the way they acted around their parents was entirely different than what we had seen in a family of mainly daughters, but the way the boys treated their niece was just like what we had seen in Hiba’s immediate family – all babies are treated like a sibling or even their own daughter. And on an unrelated note, I saw the little girl’s mother let her have sips of Arabic coffee at 10pm at night. No wonder so many Jordanians say they can drink a cup of coffee and fall right asleep!
It was a great evening and I enjoyed meeting and talking to so many new people, it’s really great how much culture and understanding can be shared over a meal.
Oh, and their mother (Hiba’s aunt) made me eat about a third of the rice for the entire family by means of friendly refillings that I could not turn down. Happy Ramadan everyone!