When I visited Jordan, it didn’t take me long to realize that the culinary aspect of the experience was going to be very important. Some countries don’t have many unique dishes, others have en embarrassment of food riches. Jordan definitely falls into the later category.
I was in Amman and had just finished a delicious meal with a lot of Jordanian staples. Hummus, ful, falafel and several kilos of bread made for the perfect afternoon repast. I really wasn’t hungry for dessert, but my hosts said they had something special for me. Curious, I tagged along as my guide wove his way through the alleyways to reach Habibah‘s, purveyors of knafeh.
Like so many other foods, knafeh is pan-Arab, it can be found throughout the region. Knafeh is made using very fine vermicelli-like pastry, which is heated with butter then a soft, white cheese is spread over it, more pastry added, and so on. The dessert is then topped with a sticky syrup and some crushed pistachios.
At first I wasn’t sure, I haven’t had great experiences with global desserts, but I decided to be polite. I watched the cooks make the sticky concoction and gave my best fake smile when they handed me a plate. We went off to the side and sat on a half- wall as I closed my eyes and took a bite.
Perhaps predictably, I loved it. It was a cool day, and the steaming hot knafeh was the perfect remedy. Sure it was sticky, but the pasta and cheese combined to make a delicious snack. I gobbled it up and looked around, expecting stares but instead found myself accompanied by scores of others enjoying the dessert as much as I did.
Moral of the story, always try new things and if you ever have the opportunity to try knafeh, go for it. Also, please send me some.