Back at the hotel in Amman, Jordan, we were continually offered Arabic coffee. It was not coffee alone, but a blend made with Cardamom. It was a brew sometimes concocted in the Arabic jug, usually made of brass, or silver. It has a large spout and a lid which was hinged onto the main body of the jug. From the spout one could see, what turned out to be, camel hair, somewhat like a brush. This was used to act as a strainer.
The brew itself was made from crushed cardamom seeds together with some coffee beans, brewed in boiling water.
In the foyer of the hotel, a large Arab gentleman, dressed in flowing Arabic robes, walked about carrying a jug in one hand and five cups, each on the finger and thumb of his left hand. Sometimes, he would have a tray which enabled him to carry more cups. The cups were little larger than an egg cup.
One would take a cup from him and he would pour the “coffee”. If you returned the cup to him, he would refill it and give it back to you. This could go on for some time. We noticed how the locals handled the situation. It seems that, when one has had enough, one offers the cup back to the server while wiggling the hand in a rotational manner. One also said “Shokran” – thank you.
It was certainly an acquired taste. I could not taste any coffee in it at all, which made me think for many years that it was Cardomom alone. What was unusual about it was the fact that, having imbibed one cup, one could go for several hours without another drink. This was quite obvious when one had a cup before going off into the desert.
Next chapter: Chapter 71: Night Life in Amman