Postcard From Amman: The Saturday Pigeon Market

I’m surrounded by cardboard boxes of pigeons and men haggling over them.

It’s Saturday in Amman, Jordan’s ancient capital city, and apparently that means it’s time to buy pigeons for dinner.

Haggling over pigeons

There’s a heavy crush of people, 98% of whom are men, and you can’t see the pigeons until you’re standing over a box. From afar it would appear that everyone here is hiding illicit drugs or weapons in the boxes.

Two baby-faced teenagers grasp the birds upside down in their hands, splaying the feathers to demonstrate quality, aerodynamics, or perhaps comparing the birds’ phalluses–I can only guess.

Quite literally for no reason, a stampede starts in the blink of an eye, and I am caught up for several breathless seconds with a tidal onslaught of people running. It’s over almost as soon as it starts, and since I don’t understand Arabic I have no idea what causes it.

The sun is beating down on my neck and I decide to retreat to the cool darkness of my hotel.

6 thoughts on “Postcard From Amman: The Saturday Pigeon Market

  1. You must have missed the news that a Chinese shipping magnate acquired a Dutch pigeon at a whopping $328,000, setting a world record for the priciest pigeon ever sold, according to the international pigeon distributor that coordinated the auction. You must have missed visiting the the self-proclaimed “largest meeting place for pigeon fanciers” in the world in Belgium (PIPA, not FIFA) where 245 pigeons have been auctioned raking in $2.5 million. It is all about pigeon-racing, not food. And those pigeon-fanciers examine every part, but mostly the eye of the pigeon.

    1. Well, I learned more about pigeons from this comment than I ever have before! I assumed they were to eat–I know you can cook them, wasn’t familiar with PIPA, or pigeon racing 🙂

  2. HOB was in Egypt on a fellowship a couple of years ago and ate pigeon. He earned a lot of cred with his Egyptian colleagues and he said it was tasty too, though it was served with the head on so he covered the head with a lettuce leaf.

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