Tuesday, July 28, 2009


After archeology day (see earlier post) came souk day. We entered the souk from the butcher's end: to be avoided on future trips: it is a real abattoir. Right at the entrance of the souk, a young man sat in the sun selling what looked like inflated party balloons: sheep's intestines. He refused to be photographed (who wouldn't?). A few meters away, but much prouder, stood this cake vendor. The cakes looked really interesting, but I did'nt dare try.

The souk is magical. There is everything, and one can spend hours there, and that's exactly what we did. Below is a picture of a shop selling the famous Aleppo laurel soap (nowhere near as nice as the Aita al Shaab soap, let it be known)

But the part of the souk I liked most was the textile shops: look at these colors! And it is all for real. People wear these as evidenced by the fashionable clothes in this shop window in `Aziziyeh. So much joy!

We had lunch at Ali's juice cocktail and sandwiches, behind the great mosque. Ali makes minuscule melted white cheese sandwiches and a fabulous juice mix: orange, mango, peach, banana and Damascus mulberries. A whole meal for 3 for less than $4 (for the 3 of us).

The Aleppo castle is of course not to be missed, but do't get fooled into the museum: it has very little and there is an entry charge. But the throne room is sublime.

Before we knew, it was time for dinner: we had been to Wannes the previous night. It is a famous restaurant in `Aziziyeh which I found to be overpriced and mediocre (I had the cherry kebab: the sauce was good, but the kebab were so so). So this time we had a beer on the terrace of Wannes and then we went to Abu Hagop, just round the corner: excellent small sandwiches with sujuk and maqanek, and good hommos. Dont miss it.

Next morning it was time to drive back to Lebanon. We took the (very) long road, towards Lattakiyeh, down into the Orontes (`Assi) valley, where I saw a field of millet, a culture that has disappeared from Lebanon. We also bought some excellent baladi figs: they are very large, hard, green outside and red inside, and they come very early. Then we climbed the mountain towards the town of Slonfeh, To get there, we passed through a very thick forest at 1,100m with firs, junipers, and really tall deciduous oaks. I haven't seen forests of this density and size in Lebanon, and I know my country pretty well. Below is a view of the `Assi valley from the mountain, and the forest below.
Slonfeh looks like any touristic mountain town in Lebanon, complete with restaurants, poor architecture and khaleeji tourists. It seems to be a very popular summer destination: look below at the huge real estate development specially meant for Gulf Arabs.
The rest of the road took us to Qurdaha, the town of the Assad family, then Tartous, the port city of no great interest, and then back to Lebanon...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are going to get me to the middle east, yet...if you keep posting food stories like this.

Amazing post!