Having been born and raised in Jordan, I am no stranger to the ways us Jordanians choose to display hospitality and affection towards our guests. Whether it be the continuous offering of coffee, tea and fruits, or the constant requests –or shall I say orders- to spend the night, these are our ways of showing our guests some Jordanian love (Let me warn you: the only love we know is tough love).
Jordanian culture is fundamentally built on the ancient Arab Bedouin culture which, as I like to think of it, screams of grace and simple complexities. You’re probably wondering what on earth simple complexities are, and I don’t blame you, it took me a while to come up with a phrase that would sufficiently describe the simultaneous modesty and abundance of traditions.
You are allowed to raise your eyebrows as I try to walk you through a typical Jordanian lunch gathering and try to explain why we do what we do:
Fast forward to round one, the time all guests are gathered at the table, you begin to hear the hosts affectionately offering food to everyone. The affection slowly turns into a questionable passion to feed everyone around as much food as humanly possible. The minute someone refuses to take that extra bite, things get real, and by real I mean you will begin to hear the hosts fighting tooth and nail trying to force feed you just one last piece of that meat we have on top of our well-known Mansaf. We dare you to say ‘no thank you’. Of course, this is all done out of love. We have taken it upon ourselves to ensure that you stay well-fed and nourished.
Having gone through that battle and ending up with an over-stuffed belly, it is now time for round two: The constant offering of tea and coffee. Would you like some tea or a cup of coffee? That is not your decision to make because you will be having both. Don’t get us wrong though, we don’t mean to seem rude. These constant offers are what make us special. Arabs in general and Jordanians in specific have generosity running in their blood as an inherited quality and we couldn’t be any more proud of it.
For all you people with a sweet tooth like me, we present to you round three: the fruits and sweets. This round is a people pleaser, if you’re healthy and not a fan of fat-drenched oriental sweets, you’ll find your match somewhere between the piles of different kinds of fruits we are force-feeding you. And if you have a sweet tooth like me, you may indulge in the outstanding variety of Arabic sweets soaked in sugar or honey. But if you’re lucky enough to have genuine Jordanians as your hosts, you will be fed both fruits and sweets regardless of your preferred choice. Again, this is all done out of love.
Pardon us if we seem rude and angry when we have you over for lunch, but believe me, we have your best interest at heart. After all, tough love is the only kind of love we Jordanians know.