Guest contribution by Jareer Kassis
Let me make it clear from the outset: I have no stake in mansaf. If it is served, I eat it; if it is not, I don’t crave it. It is reasonably tolerable on the palate if prepared correctly (more on that in a minute) but it is certainly not a delicacy that you should indulge in too often if you hope to live long enough to see your grandkids. But regardless of whether you love it or hate it, you are highly likely to encounter this behemoth of a meal if your family origins are from a town within a 100-mile radius of the Dead Sea. Therefore, my piece of advice to you is simply as follows: If you have to eat it, make sure it is made in Palestine.
I can already hear howls of protest: “But mansaf is a Jordanian dish!” Well of course it is! We Palestinians have more common sense when it comes to avoiding artery-clogging meals (well, slightly). If mansaf was good enough to be a Palestinian dish, obviously you’d have seen it offered at the Harvard Business School cafeteria next to “Israeli” hummus. No, it absolutely is a Jordanian concoction, and it is even considered the Jordanian national dish—which is fine when you realize that it is the only “national” artifact the Jordanians can claim to be proud of (considering even their national anthem sounds like an out-of-tune preamble to an actual theme that never arrives). [Read more...]