Jordan #7: Arabic Cuisine & Calligraphy

Nico Pfeifler ’25, describes a mouthwatering culinary experience, and MacGregor Hynds ’25, reflects on the groups last day activities in Jordan.

The smell of roasted eggplant and tahini wafted through the air of the ancient Amman household. Deerfield students crowd around a u shaped table furiously chopping onions and tomatoes, being careful not to crush their delicate flesh. On a stove an eggplant roast, a perfect char surrounding a mushy middle.

One of the cooks brings over a large bowl, olive oil and yogurt in her other hand. Inside goes the chopped onions, minced garlic, and mushed eggplant. Mixed together it will make mutabal, known in America as Baba Ghanoush. To pair with it students roll dough by hand in to small balls, ready to be baked in to fluffy fresh bread.

On the other side of the table boiled chicken washed in tahini is layered on the bottom of a large pot. On the sides is plastered eggplant, and over the chicken a mix of seasoned rice and fresh cauliflower is placed. The pot is then placed on the stove, diligently watched until it is ready to be flipped. The key to a perfect maqluba is flipping the entire dish before serving.

Students, trip leaders, and cooks gather around the table to finally eat all their hard work. Plates piled high with eggplant dip, rice and chicken, and tomato salad are quickly devoured. Conversation flows like the lemon and mint tea, and at the end of the meal is one last surprise. The entire group is roused into song to celebrate Alisa’s birthday, and for the finally course strawberry and orange cakes as well as rose water pudding.

-Nico Pfeifler ’25

Our last day in Jordan was filled with excitement and sorrow. The day was packed, we explored ancient Greco Roman cities and learned calligraphy with the man who designed the modern Dinar. But I felt an inextinguishable sadness about leaving Jordan, a place that I have grown to love and admire. Today, especially, I experienced little pockets of beauty and kindness that I will always keep close to my heart. For example, while walking through the time-worn streets of Jerash I could find little pieces of pottery.

-MacGregor Hynds ’25