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Christmas in the Middle East

December 26, 2012

Middle East Santa

Another Christmas abroad comes and goes. Holidays outside the U.S. are always a memorable experience because in every new place, I’ve had to find a new way to celebrate. The picture above is a misleading – no, I didn’t dress up as Santa Clause and eat mansaf. Neither did I eat mansaf with Santa Clause. But I did discover that being a journalist can be helpful in searching out holiday fun.

I was looking for Christmas in Amman, not only for a short piece, but for my own love of everything related to the holiday. Drawn by the plethora of decorations out front, I was lured into the La Parisienne cake shop, where I stumbled upon the taste of Christmas. Oh my yum.

What struck me most about this bakery though was not that the candy canes tasted like it came out of a Wegman’s box. Neither was it that the inside of the shop looked like home. But instead, it was the owner, Chef Moammar Al-Absi, who inspired me. He talked about his love of making sweets for Christmas, and all other special occasions as well, with a passion that was tangible. Absi explained the different types of cakes that he makes with a broad smile on his face and a detectable excitement in his voice. Photographer Omar Alkalouti captured this in his photo.


Chef Moammar Al-Absi displays Christmas cakes in his bakery, La Parisienne, in Amman, Jordan.

(Also, if you click on the photo, you can find the story I contributed to on Christmas in the Middle East!)

He has been cooking since he was 14 years old. After all those years, the 31-year old finally opened his own bakery almost two years ago, and is now successful and able to follow his dream of being a baker. Thanks to Chef Moammar Al-Absi, I am reminded of why I came to Jordan, and what I want most in 2013: to keep discovering inspiring stories and finding a platform to tell them on.

Merry Christmas.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2012 8:47 am

    Merry Christmas Melissa. This is just lovely, in a way or another I knew you’d posy a picture of Santa and Mansaf.

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