Madaba, continued… LUNCH.

En route to St. George’s, we tried to see another Archeologic Museum site.  Poking around trying to find it, we passed a few tourist shops.  One of the men on the street in front of the shops explained that the area was closed (it was Friday and the door guard was off at the mosque), but if were walked along a back road we could see everything inside.  It was a good tip and he was friendly enough, so we launched into very basic conversation.  Or, rather, he engaged the kids — at the moment, Will and Kate are actually the most popular tourist sites in Jordan — and we participated in very basic pleasantries common in Jordan (where are you from, what is your name, hello, how are you).  He ended up giving the kids stuffed camels, wanting or indicating nothing in return, simply because he wanted to give them a gift.

So, after we left the church and saw what we wanted to see, we decided to go back and find his shop and purchase something from him.  He GAVE our kids toys, after all.  Ploy to get us in the store?  Maybe, but Jordan isn’t really like that, and even so, he gave them willingly and never asked for anything in return.  We wanted to give back to his generosity as it seemed like the right thing to do.

It didn’t take long to find him.  Within 2 minutes of seeing him, we learned his name (Malek) and he’d given Kate another gift (a doll).  He had a artist making a mosaic table top for a customer who came to check in on it — which gave us an opportunity to learn about the different techniques and styles.  We ended up choosing a mosaic made in-house with Jordanian symbolic significance and he offered to have the wood frame buffed up nicely.  While this happened, we asked if he could recommend a good place for lunch.

“Tourist food?”

NO.  Local food.  Jordanian lunch.

“You okay with sitting on the floor?”

Absolutely we were!

“Local food, I order for you? You like meat, rice, youghurt?”

Bring it!

Malek insisted on driving us over.  True to his word, he greeted the owner with us and explained all that they needed to do.  We took off our shoes and entered a small cube with cushions lining the walls.  They laid down a plastic sheet and we sat around it, ready.  Traditional lunch, the place’s “best dish” (according to Malek): first lentil soup, salad, tomato salad, youghurt, and then main dish with grilled chicken on rice with dates, raisins, and almonds.  Then tea.

Just as if we were in a Jordanian home, we sat around the plastic cover on the rug and ate with our hands.  Kate, who has never completed a meal without using her utensil-hating digits, was in HEAVEN.

Here’s what it all looked like…


Dig in!


Seriously good stuff.  And the almonds?  WOW.  So good it makes you wonder whether you’ve actually ever had an almond before.


Little salad.  Will, for whatever reason, LOVED this salad.  Please don’t tell him that it is cabbage.


Kate wanted to live in Jordan, FOREVER(!), after realizing that eating with hands is okay here.


As Will has never actually sat completely with both butt checks in a single chair at the same time, he was most happy with sitting in the floor.


The happy face of a child with sticky hands.


Like everything, tea comes on a tray.  You don’t take the tray from anyone either (especially if you’re female and the server is a male) — you let them put it down in front of you.  Even if there is a sea of debris at your feet.  They’ll work it out.



The tea was spiced with herbs to help with digestion.  I’m still amazed that Will drank his up — with great concentration in doing so, too!



Even Paul drank it down!

The entire meal — including the unnecessary tip we added — was 11 JD.  (About $15.)  Cheaper than the cost of 1 of the four of us eating anywhere a tourist might go.


Malek picked us up when we were done and brought us back to the shop.  He made Bedoin headscarves for the kids before agreeing to a picture.



If you’re in Madaba, we highly recommend stopping at PEACE, the main store owned by Malek Abu Al-Ganam.  You can also reach him by Telephone (00962 77 7872563) or email (