|Turtle Green, a popular coffee shop on Rainbow Street put up some traditional Christmas garlands...|
|...while a tea and smoke shop a few blocks away offered a display of Santa Claus amidst the nargileh (sheisha) pipes.|
On the Christmas cookie front, the big issue has been sourcing ingredients. Who'd have thought that pure vanilla extract, Hershey kisses and plain old chocolate chips could be so hard to find? My Fulbright colleague and friend,Tess, who also happens to be an extraordinary cook, suggested that we should go on an ingredient expedition to Cozmo, an Amman supermarket with a reputation for carrying lots of foods Westerners seek. I did find molasses, but struck out on vanilla and my chocolate products. So, I'm now using vanilla powder (which is not as good but at least does not have the chemical taste of artificial vanilla) and chopping up chocolate bars to replace chocolate chips. No substitute for Hershey kisses, but the ever-thoughtful Cooper, one of the residents of Carpetland, the Fulbrighter apartment nearest me, said he'd bring some back from the Kansas, where he's been participating in his sister's wedding, if he has room in his suitcase. I am anxiously awaiting the verdict on that one. For cookie cutters I have hearts and stars -- but the stars have kind of narrow points that make the "arms" fall off at inopportune moments. So, this year, we'll be eating lots of the not-so-traditional Christmas Heart.
|So far, the substitutions seem to be working okay. My annual Christmas cookie production has begun -- here are Meltaways, Jam Thumbprints, Chocolate Sugar Cookies and Santa's Whiskers.|
And best of all, I've found that, once I starting throwing myself into my two major Christmas pursuits, I started seeing Christmas all around me, too. I finally saw the definitively Christmas-y movie Love Actually (a bunch of my Fulbright friends were horrified that I had never seen it, and procured a bootleg copy -- perfectly fine except for some skips in the middle and the excision of some scenes deemed too racy for local viewers), a significant fraction of the shops on Rainbow Street have put up some decoration in honor of the season, and today, in honor of my birthday, my friends Elizabeth, Grace, Hannah and I headed back to Madaba, a town with a sizable Christian population for mosaic-viewing and Christmas shopping.
|Grace showing off some mosaics in the partially restored Church of the Virgin Mary of Madaba.|
|Although you can't see the statue of Santa playing a clarinet behind us, what drew us to Haret Jdoudna for lunch was less the Christmas decorations and more the fabulous food.|
|Madaba even has a big Christmas tree set up in one of the city's traffic circles. Elizabeth and I thought the Christmas stocking ornament theme was a bit limiting, but still plenty photo-worthy.|
So, I guess it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, after all, if only you know where to look and are able to appreciate the form you find.