Alia’s Rites of Passage

During our visit to Wadi Rum Alia undertook a Jordanian rite of passage. I suppose if Atef lets me give her Vegemite, which he considers the equivalent of poison, then I have to let him give Alia some foodstuffs that I definitely put in the category of “I’m not eating that……ever!”

But before Alia undertook that rite of passage she also undertook another one. Our Bedouin driver took us to a Bedouin camp, but not before we first stopped a young boy riding a donkey with his herd of goats and Alia got to “ride” the donkey.


Excuse the fingers in the mouth – teething!

The Bedouin camp was the real deal and it is amazing to see how the Bedouin still live. They tend their herd of goats, walking miles each day for the goats to graze in the desert.



Sitting inside the Bedouin Tent.


IMG_0822 IMG_0820

Their income comes from milking the goats and selling the milk as a fermented yoghurt and also jameed. Jameed is considered a Jordanian delicacy and like most delicacies it tends to be one that you really only appreciate if you are brought up with it. The fermented goats milk (yoghurt) is left to dry and salt is added until you are left with a dense yoghurt which is then rolled into balls and further left to dry until hardened. It is used to make Jordan’s national dish of Mansaf by reconstituting the rock hard balls of Jameed in water to make the yoghurt sauce which the meat is cooked in. It is also eaten as a snack by breaking small pieces off the hardened balls. I don’t enjoy the taste of the salty, extremely sour/fermented, chalky cheese, but I can say that I had at least tried it.

We were made to feel incredibly welcome by Um Ali and her boys and it is humbling how genuine their generosity and hospitality is. The mattress seating was pulled out and set up for us to sit on. They shared with us bowls of goats milk which had been milked that morning. It was around 3:30 in the afternoon when we were offered the bowls of milk and there is no refrigeration (no electricity) at the camp so the milk had been left to sit all day and ferment into the yoghurt drink. It’s an acquired taste and I’m not a huge fan.

But Alia loved it. She couldn’t get enough of it. My little girl completed her rite of passage, drinking fermented goats milk in a Bedouin tent in Wadi Rum.

Alia’s turn


Then daddy’s turn…..but Alia wants more


Getting right into the goats milk – flies and all.


They brought a small glass for Alia


Milk moustache


Ummmm…. yummy


We were also offered a ball of jameed to snack on. At approximately 30JD ($45 Aus) a kilo this  is extremely generous of Um Ali to offer it to us.

The generosity and hospitality of Um Ali extended to asking our Bedouin guide to take the small goat which Alia was patting and kill it so that she could make Mansaf for us. Whilst we were extremely humbled to have this offer extended to us we (fortunately) didn’t have time and graciously declined.

The sacrificial goat


Much happier to know that the goats gets to live another day


Mummy can I take  this one home?


Um Ali, Alia and I


I have to give Helen credit for all the photos in this blog post. She was in the perfect position to capture Alia in action undertaking her rite of passage!

11 responses to “Alia’s Rites of Passage

  1. Thank you for sharing a wonderful insight into traditional life in Jordan:) have visited Wadi Rum a few times and always had a great experience. It is truly a special place 🙂

  2. What an absolutely wonderful post: the ‘Alia Story’ has really made me feel fuzzy-warm on a busy Friday noon and i hope you won’t mind my sharing with friends! Now I love yogurt [tho’ have not had it as hard balls 🙂 !] and hate Vegemite, so . . . . 😀 ! Oh yes, am sending you greetings from Australia!!

    • Share away! It surprised me that Jordanians don’t like Vegemite as I thought that the saltiness would have been right up their alley given their love of salt! It’s one of those things that I really think that you have to grow up with. Just like the yoghurt! 🙂

  3. First of all I have to say that you look beautiful in your pink hijab. I grew up eating ME food and I have to say that jammed isn’t my cup of tea either! Your daughter, mashAllah, she seems to be enjoying the whole experience. Kids are so innocent and enjoy their experiences thoroughly and without bias.


    • Thank you – I do love pink. It’s so refreshing to hear from someone that grew up eating ME food that they don’t like Jameed – suddenly I don’t feel so guilty for not liking it! 🙂 I am very blessed to have a very easy going daughter who just takes everything in her stride. Makes my job easier.

  4. I will second Nazneen, you look wonderful in pink and I don’t like jameed despite the fact that I lived here all my life 🙂 As for the hardened yogurt balls “labneh” it can be as mild, salty or sour as you decide to make it. It depends on the yogurt you make it with. My mum makes yogurt using a yogurt starter. The idea of leaving milk in the sun in the dessert for hours to ferment is just scary. I am not sure I would allow my kids to try that. You are really brave and open minded Andrea

    • Thank you Sawsan. I like the idea of making yoghurt with a starter to be able to control the taste as you like. I do have to let Atef have some say in raising Alia – even though I won’t be encouraging her to drink the fermented yoghurt all that often! 🙂

  5. Andrea, this is another gorgeous post. I’ve missed reading your writing… it’s been a bit crazy over the past few weeks so I have a bit to catch up on! Alia is so, so gorgeous. As are you! Haha… I love the fact that Alia enjoyed the goats milk so much! I think I would have a bit of trouble drinking it, knowing that it had been fermenting all day :/ Argh, I am such a weak Aussie (particularly in terms of my gastric system, I get food poisoning so easily). But then again, in terms of ‘poison’, I can inhale a jar of Vegemite with no trouble 🙂 It’s funny own we adapt to certain things! P.S has Alia tried a Mint Slice yet? Hugs to you Andrea! xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s