Nouveau Cuisine

I’m one of those people who thinks Nouveau Cuisine is anything cooked in a microwave, so the idea of attending a Jordanian cooking class was a little worrying, to say the least.

Petra Kitchen is located just yards from the Petra Visitor’s Centre and provides cooking instruction, hands-on preparation and then consumption of the meal you’ve just helped prepare. My fellow students from England, Scotland, the U.S. and Germany didn’t know just how incredibly lucky they were to have me on their team—because with me around they were guaranteed to look like master chefs.

The sweat began to bead on my brow as soon as I was asked to boil some water. Couldn’t they have begun with a simpler task? I took a swig of red wine and feigned confidence. It was downhill from there. Peeling an onion? I mean, they might just as well have asked me to prepare Japanese puffer fish. Dicing tomatoes, slicing beets, chopping lettuce…was there no end to the torture?

Slowly the meal took shape despite my contributions. I sniffed containers of cumin and black pepper, sumac and cardamom nodding wisely in agreement when others jumped forward to identify the mystery spices.

Finally, the meal was finished and we feasted on a gourmet spread of lentil soup, baba ganuj, tahina salad, tabbouleh, fatoosh, cucumber and yogurt salad, galayat bandura and kabsah dijaj. I was in awe. It was delicious and truly amazing. Never had I had finer boiled water, more precisely peeled onions, better diced tomatoes, more superbly sliced beets or greater chopped lettuce.

I was offered a position as instructor but thought it best to hang up my apron while I was still ahead.