Monday, 29 August 2011

Chapter 71 Tourism - do it right

Because when new people come to town there's really only one place that's got to be visited immediately.

I'll give you a moment to think about it.

Joseph's tomb perhaps? The old Roman ruins maybe?

Nah, you gotta work them up to the sightseeing. Get them settled first and fill their bellies.

The souq? I hear you ask. Sure, that's a biggie - but you need to sweeten them up first.


Aah... yes I see the light come on in your eyes and you are indeed right.

To really appreciate Nablus you must first be introduced to its most famous export - knaffe, a traditional cheese filled sweet pastry that lays in your stomach like a anvil if overeaten yet maddeningly addictive.



Despite it being Ramadan, many stores, bakeries and food stalls are open as people complete their shopping during the day.

It is frowned upon for those who are not fasting to eat or drink in public but before we knew it a little table had been set up in a tucked away corner. A dish with samples of their knaffe, baklava and pastries suddenly appeared with a jug of water.

The owner's mother sat with us and immediately began chatting. We left the others to eat and she took me upstairs to meet the owner, chatting all the way.

'My son lives in America - in Houston. Come, come it's this way. How lovely you are here - you must come have iftar with us. Ah, these are the boys who make the knaffe. Say hello boys.'

The owner sat in a furniture filled office upstairs watching a monitor transmitting feeds from CCTV cameras in the kitchens.

'No two knaffes taste the same. You can visit five women's homes and eat the same dish, but each will taste different. Each  will invest a little of her personality into the dish. It is the same with our pastries, you will not taste anything similar.'

With traditional Palestinian hospitality they refused to take any payment and the troupe left with full bellies and sweet tooths satisfied.

Halwyat Arafat - 24 years and going strong

Traditional Ramadan biscuits

Baklava (or baklawa as we say it) the perfect gift when invited to dinner

Beautiful buttery ghraybiehs and other traditional sweets

Getting involved