If only all trips could start out like this: After a great flight halfway across the world on Gulf Air's very spacious and comfortable flat bed, entertaining myself in between naps with WiFi in the sky, I woke up today at the Four Seasons Amman to a wonderful and extremely colorful breakfast, followed by a morning of spa treatments, and then an honest-to-goodness Middle Eastern Friday brunch.
THE BEST THAI MASSAGE
More later on the great spa treatment I had today -- but let me tell you anyway that the Thai massage I had this morning was among the best I've had in a not-very-short lifetime of Thai massages in some of the best spas in the world.
It completely blew my mind. So much so that the massage had not even finished yet, and I was going over my schedule in my head, trying to figure out if I had another free two-hour period to squeeze in another Thai massage before flying out to Tel Aviv.
FRIDAYS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Friday is the start of the weekend in the Middle East, and all across the region, the Friday brunch is the high point of everyone's social life. People get dressed up and get together for a long and leisurely meal.
And there's no better place in Jordan to enjoy the fabulous Middle Eastern Friday brunch than at the Four Seasons Amman, the country's best hotel. Everyone social is here for a long meal with friends or family.
I walked into the brunch place to get a bite before heading out to start my tour of the city, and the restaurant manager walked me over to a long table in the middle of the room, simply heaping with seafood.
Next to it was a long counter with ovens, and on the counter were baskets upon baskets of all kinds of bread; while on the opposite side was a food station with soups and several different kinds of Middle Eastern dishes.
The restaurant manager said to me, quite proudly: "This is the Four Seasons Amman brunch."
I surveyed it. It was nice -- especially those mountains of seafood -- but I'd seen better. There weren't even any live cooking stations within vision. But I smiled politely at him anyway.
Then he continued: "And after you're through with these, you can go into the kitchen for the meal."
The kitchen? The meal?
Oh yes. I'd failed to notice that the kitchen door was open and all kinds of people -- including some children -- who were not in the hotel's uniform, were actually going in and out.
THE GANG'S ALL HERE
The Friday weekend brunch was actually happening inside the kitchen, as the hotel opens up the kitchen every Friday just for this.
And when I went in, boy, did a vision of food await inside. The hotel kitchen was lined with live stations on both sides, serving everything imaginable -- from Asian food and pastas to barbecues, Indian food and Middle Eastern food.
Each table has a bunch of papers with numbers, and you simply walk up to any food station you fancy and give one of the smiling waiters your table number. Within minutes, plates and plates of food will start arriving at your table.
There was even an elderly Jordanian lady making the fresh flat pastry-type bread that people in this part of the world eat with everything -- from dips over breakfast to grilled meats at dinner.
And around me are tables of women and men, enjoying their brunch; but almost all seated separately except those tables which are occupied obviously by families. This dynamics between men and women in this part of the world really makes for an interesting study, especially coming from an entirely different culture and way of life.
I'm always fascinated by the life in the Middle East, and this Friday weekend brunch -- a real institution now in almost every country here -- has just given me a better glimpse of the life and times here.
And now, I'm off to explore Amman and to have dinner with some new friends in Jordan. More on that later.
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