Thursday, June 18, 2009
Mensef, Cocktails and Yellow Hair
I had the opportunity to try Mensef today, the most popular (as far as I can tell) Jordanian dish. Mensef consists of yellow rice with almonds and or pine nuts, lamb and a yogurt sauce. I had heard mixed reviews of this mysterious dish so I didn't have very high expectations. Originally I was excited to have the opportunity to eat with my hands again but when the dish was put in front of me with some silverware and I wasn't surrounded by others eating with their hands, I succumbed to the temptation of silverware, to the pleasure of my just washed hands. It wasn't great but it wasn't bad either. I'm sure I'll be eating it again.
Today I found out that Jordan has the healthiest and tastiest cocktails that I've ever had. Their version of a 'cocktail' is what we call fresh squeezed juice or a smoothie. The orange carrot one sounded pretty good and it was indeed fantastic. A fellow student ordered a lemon mint one which was equally as good, with more of a punch because of the bitterness of the lemon and the strength of the mint. Fortunately, the guy understood when I ordered it in Arabic, I just have to get down 'for here or to go' and I'll be good.
Melissa's daughter Maria says that I have yellow hair. I don't know why but it puts a smile on my face.
The big event today was the placement test that I took at 10. I came here feeling pretty confident about my Arabic for only having taken two semesters. By the time I walked out of the placement exam I felt like a moron. Of course, the same test is given to everybody; the novices to the advanced. It just made me realize how much more I have to learn. During the oral exam I was asked to point out Jimmy Carter in a newspaper photo which amused me. The orientation actually started on time, which almost surprised me because from what I can tell, the Jordanian way of doing things is...not quite as formal and organized as the US. For example, the orientation was supposed to be yesterday at 10 but instead of e-mailing us, we all went to the language center only to find a sign on the door saying that the orientation had been rescheduled for the next day at 1:00. So I didn't have to wake up at 6:30 and leave at 8 with Melissa and the kids but at least I got an early lesson in 'the Jordanian way of doing things 101'.
We were all told today that we must be on time for our weekend excursions. I believe the administrator's exact words were "you must be on time for the bus. The bus might be late by 15 minutes for technical reasons but it's very important that you be on time" As melissa told me, "in Jordan, you hurry to wait"