Nablus is a beautiful place...
"Why?" I hear you cry.
"The food!” I call back, over the shouts of the market vendors. Really, Nablus is gastronomic heaven.
Let's start with the fruit and vegetables, which can be found in abundant supply in the Fruit Market, just down from the dawar (roundabout). Everything you've ever wished for is here, begging to be bought, at a price which will make you smile. A kilo of tomatoes, 2 shekels. Yep, everything is bought in kilos. It's so cheap there’s no reason not to.
After you have filled your bags, hands and pockets with fresh produce, you'll probably need a rest. And where better than the best cocktail place in town, just across the road. A scrumptious blend of banana, juice, nuts and ice-cream, with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a cherry on top. Perfect for soothing the throat after a long day's teaching. If cocktail’s not your style, maybe fresh fruit juice tempts you more? Or super sweet tea? Or Arabic coffee (with cardamom)? It’s all here.
In the old city you’ll find olives, dates, and much more galore. Shopping is a real experience Nablus. You won’t just go home with bags of food, but with friends, Arabic words, and a love for your new home.
You’ll find huge amounts of friendliness and generosity as you wander from stall to stall, soaking up the sights, smells and tastes of the market.
Heading home, just realised you need some bread with your hummus? Look no further than the big bakery on the roundabout. Watch (or better, smell) the warm puffs appearing fresh from the fire. They have all sorts; brown puffs, white puffs, thin puffs, stuffed puffs. Yum puffs. This man is making the thinnest bread you’ve ever seen, it’s wonderful to watch. There are also plenty of sweet breads to be found, the cinnamon buns and date sticks are particularly good.
Falafel is not hard to come by in Nablus. Closest to Project Hope is the lovely falafel man at the end of the road. Here, falafel is neat. But if you prefer, there's falafel with hummus, falafel with salad, big falafel, small falafel. Loads of falafel. For the meat fans shawerma is the street snack to be seen with, served with salads and sauces, it’s a sandwich Nablusi style oozing with deliciousness.
Once you’ve tried cooking at home and you’re bored of bread and hummus, it’s time to go out for dinner. Try Farouziyat. The best thing about this Rafidiyah restaurant (on the main street) is the beautiful view over Nablus, as you eat your kofta, drink your limon ma nana and smoke your shisha. Rafidiyah Street is full of restaurants, so have a wander and see what takes your fancy. Khamis restaurant is well-known for its falafel and hummus, worth a try.
Last, but definitely not least, comes the sweets. Nablus is famous for its kunafeh, a stringy, cheesy, crispy, sweet, gooey, delicious desert which defies definition. You’ll just have try it; you’ll love it. Served in slabs eaten warm, you can find it on one of the many sweet shops dotted around the city. There’s also baklava of every variety (being made in the photo below), and all sorts of other sugary treats. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be very happy in Nablus. And if you don’t, you will soon.
So, eat well, drink well…
Bismi ‘llah! بسم الله!