Wednesday, August 14, 2013


It is a while since I followed up on my write-up of our trip to Nazareth.  We visited more than once, however, the first time was with a guided day tour and very good it was too.  See here for the first post  When  we went independently, we felt rather disorientated at first. The tourist office wasn't where we thought it was. We found it  on our way back to the bus, at the end of the day.

We revisited a number of the places we had seen previously in the centre of Nazareth and were surprised at how close they were to one another. For example, The Church Of The Annunciation, the ancient town of Nazareth and the Basilica.  The Basilica visit will be another post.

Exploring the ancient quarter we found the Al Mutran Guest House.  It has good reports.  We were allowed to look inside the reception area  styled like the old Middle East. Aladdin would have loved the old lamps and carpet wall hangings. Everything was sparkling.

The parked cars kept you in touch with the here and now in a very old place where you felt history literally under your feet. A dig down, not too far, would, I am sure, have unearthed many archaeological fascinations.

On our way to the old market we saw a lovely old quarter we had not visited before,  where we found The 18th Century Saraya.  'Saraya' is Turkish for Castle or Palace.  This was an Ottoman governor's  residence and administrative centre. As I read the information plaque I received an urgent summons from hubby.  Almost next door was a cafe which was housed in what used to be the  Governor's wife's quarters, according to Abu Ashraf.  He  had ran the cafe there for more than 33 years and knew its history well.  When I arrived, I was utterly amazed to see Scottish Griddle pancakes  being made. "No," he insisted, "Not Scottish, these are my own recipe.  I created it".  While a man sitting nearby argued "Yes, Scottish".   

He had visited Glasgow once for two days,  had seen griddle pancakes and eaten some during his brief visit.  The cafe was closed till the day's stock of pancakes had been made.  It  usually opened about midday.
 Abu, a very educated man and very interesting to talk to, is seen here making his pancakes for the day and allowing them to cool on the sales table.  That's quite a pile and a lot more were added to it.
Abu asked us to try his finished product and invited us into the cafe to sit  and enjoy what he was about to create.  What we were seeing were the 'ready made' bases sold to customers to finish at home in their own style; what we were about to receive was a treat that Abu Ashraf has become well known for in his corner of the world and also, farther afield.  He is a speciality celebrity chef of Kataifi, though we did not know it at the time. This link will tell you more -

This is the treat Abu produced especially for us. It is a wonderful absolutely delicious memory.  While the base is a recognisable Scottish griddle pancake, the finished dish is definitely not.
 You see the cup of Oriental coffee, that one was hubby's.

This is how the cup looked once he had finished his drink. I promise you, this is genuine. This is exactly how the coffee grouts formed.  I just had to get a picture of it. The coffee grouts in my cup were totally uninspiring.

If you follow the '' link given above, there is a reference  to Abu Ashraf's collection of stoves and memorabilia of many kinds, in the cafe.  Here's some pictures we took that give you a feel for it.

 There was quite a museum collection, far more than is shown in these pictures.  If ever there was a power failure at the cafe, Abu would have sufficient alternative equipment to work with.  The primus stoves would have stood the cooking test.

Here is a real mix of 'bric-a-brac' crossing  faiths, culinary tools and storage containers. You could even boil a kettle or two on the stoves.

A decorative samovar, ibriks and candle sticks living side by side on this shelf. The duck is cute.

In the winter when business was quiet, Abu said he spent time on as many of the artifacts he could get round to.

The old market of Nazareth was easy to wander around, (unlike the old Jerusalem market).  Hubby was in search of a Wonderpot. They seemed to be available in every kitchen appliance market booth.  Here's one in use.


Anonymous said...

I remember cooking on a primus, and baking with a wonderpot. Those were such different days. A little harder, maybe, but no less enjoyable. Good to hear you found such wonderful places in Nazareth, and that you still remember the sweet tastes.

ZACL said...

Oh yes Shimon, the tastes were sweet, (not overly so)tempered with a delicate flavour of geranium water in the glaze.

After buying a Wonderpot, we were gifted a family one that had been used for years, with love. Every now and then, hubby makes rye bread in the Wonderpot, mostly using a Primus stove, though, he has used the hob once, so I could take pictures more easily of the whole process. We sent the pictures to the family who gave us the gift, who then passed them round to all the other family members to see.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a most enjoyable, and interesting, read. Flighty xx

Snowbird said...

What a wonderful post, I really enjoyed it. The pancakes look amazing and how about that fish in the coffee cup....amazing! I would love to have a good look at the bric a fantastic collection.xxxx

ZACL said...

Hi Mr F,

I am pleased you enjoyed the journey (thus far).


ZACL said...

You'll have to visit if you want to get close to the artefacts and bric-a-brac, Snowbird. There is so much there in the cafe, more than the photographs were able to capture. We just selected sections.

The fish in the coffee cup left Abu bemusedly shaking his head, not solely us. He saw us drinking our coffees (he made them) and saw us finishing the drinks. He was as surprised as we were at grouts 'picture' Who needs to read tea leaves!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, some immersion into local culture, and talking to someone outstanding in his field too - even better than a tour guide! I'd love to know what was in those pancakes.

The ichthus coffee grounds ... very appropriate! ;)

ZACL said...

Hi Gillyk,

Two pancakes had a cheese filling, the other two were mixed nuts including pistachios. I was concerned they would be like Baklava...not a bit of it, they were delicate. Both types were yummy, I didn't want to finish them too soon.

As for the fish....Abu, who is a Moslem, did ask hubby if he was a fisherman.

zalandeau said...

Pancake ré-inventé localement, pourquoi pas ?

Il m'est arrivé de constater que ce que j'avais "inventé" avait aussi été inventé par quelqu'un d'autre, sans que nous ne nous connaissions...

ZACL said...

Salut Zalandeau,

Exactement....pourqouis pas?

Un point d'interesse; Les 'pancakes' en ce trouve plus ou moin car meme en Russe et je pense en la reste de l'Est d'Europe. Ces ci s'appelles 'Blinis'. Leur presentations peut etre different, sans la glacure, par example, aussie le choses en mettre pour lui farci sont variee entre les doux et les salés

Rebb said...

Enjoyed reading about your many discoveries on your past trip. The pancakes look delicious, especially the special treat Abu prepared for you. And I now know what a wonder pot is!

ZACL said...

Hi Rebb,

We had already bought and tried out a wonder pot we purchased on another occasion in Jerusalem. This time we ended up going home with two more, one new, bought in Nazareth and one gifted.

Abu's treat was rather special. He was a bit put out we hadn't searched him out. He was sure he'd be in our guide book, he and his speciality is in a number of them. He was not in ours, Abu even checked in case we'd missed the entry. I'm delighted we did find his cafe. If not, we would have missed out on an extraordinary memory.