March 14 2018 | Written & Photographed By Alice Su for Roads And Kingdoms
A History Of Amman In 10 Dishes
(Above: Halawat al-jibn / pastry, an indulgent roll of thick cream wrapped in a lighter skin of sweet cheese and semolina, doused with sugar water and covered with fresh crushed pistachios.)
Amman is humble and dense, a dusty makeshift capital developed by necessity, not design, for the waves of migrants and refugees who’ve fled to Jordan through the centuries. Its eastern side is packed with lower-income Jordanians and refugees surviving in tiny sand-colored rooms stacked on top of each other; its western side hosts flocks of humanitarian workers who’ve come for those refugees, living alongside diplomats, foreigners and other elites. The two sides intersect in the balad, Jordan’s ancient downtown center and the heartbeat of Amman, with staircases running like arteries up to different neighborhoods, most of them centered on hills–thus the names Jabal (mountain) Amman, Jabal al-Weibdeh, Jabal al-Akhdar, Jabal Hussein, and so on.The best food in Amman isn’t what tourists are typically recommended but the secret, local places where the migrant population goes for the flavors and scents they miss the most. Here’s our guide to eating your way through them.
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