Druze Food When You Are Hungry - 32

Updated: Apr 24



Twenty percent of Israeli citizens are Arabs. But within the Arab community, there is a group called the Druze. While their religion is somewhat of a mystery (they split from a sect of Islam hundreds of years ago, but they don't identify as Muslim), they are some of the warmest people in the country.


Part of their doctrine is that they are loyal to whatever country they are in. Many of them were living in the Golan Heights when Israel conquered it during the Six-Day War. They have a much better life in Israel than they ever would have had in war-torn Syria. A Syrian refugee in Jordan asked one of our pastors when he met him on a humanitarian aid trip, "Can you (Israel) please take all of the Golan Heights and rescue us from Syria?"



Many Druze serve in the Israeli Defense Forces and as police officers. Last week, sadly, Yazan Falah, a Druze border police officer, was killed by an Islamic terrorist. Elana and I remember well when we gave a ride to a Druze cleric getting from one village to the next in 1991. When we arrived at his village, the mayor took us into his home, fed us, and then took us touring. They have a strong sense of hospitality.


The religious men wear puffy pants, like MC Hammer back in the 90s. They do that because of their belief that one of their men will suddenly give birth to their Messiah. The baggy pants will give a soft landing to the "Messiah."


Druze are great cooks. On any given Shabbat, when the weather is nice, you can find kiosks all over Northern Israel in the mountains that say in Hebrew, Pita Druzit. The difference between the pita bread of the Druze and the pita that you are used is size and thickness. Theirs is huge and thin, and they wrap sandwiches in it.


On the side of the road, they offer Pita Druzit with a creamy white cheese called labneh (a soft goat milk cheese), and they add all kinds of spices, like hyssop. They will also sell fresh olives from their own olive trees and, of course, olive oil in recycled bottles.




OUR AMAZING MEAL AT A PITA DRUZIT STAND

After hiking one day, we wanted to go to a restaurant. A favorite pastime for Israelis, particularly in the spring, is to go north to hike. Everything is blooming, and the landscapes are magical. Afterward, you look for a good authentic Middle Eastern restaurant. But we were really hungry and wanted to eat now.


My daughter Sharon had wanted to get some pita and labneh, so we stopped at a Druze stand. The people were so sweet, and it turned out they were serving more than just the typical stuff. It was a home-cooked feast. We sat down at the plastic table and enjoyed one of the best lunches I've ever had in Israel.


We typically take our tours through two Druze villages on Mount Carmel—Isfiya and Daliyat el-Carmel.


The Druze village of Isfiya is located on the top of the Carmel Mountain commanding a panoramic view of the surrounding green hills. The village has a rich tradition of openness, hospitality, and warmth that is characteristic of the Druze community. Its special location and rich ethnic tradition and culture have proved especially attractive for travelers and tourists… The main street of the village has a lively bazaar filled with a variety of colorful shops. Nearby restaurants serve guests spicy ethnic foods. The colorful market is filled with visitors on Shabbat and is a noisy, festive place filled with exotic aromas and colors.[1]

On the way to Daliyat el-Carmel, you will encounter many sheep and goats with their shepherds on the side of the road.


Daliyat el-Carmel is a colorful village that offers wonderful hospitality with a smile and is also very interesting. Daliyat el-Carmel was founded in the 17th century by Druze from Mt. Lebanon.


Daliyat el-Carmel's colorful market, open on Saturdays, is only an excuse to come to this special place. On the main street, dozens of stores offer their varied wares, and one can get lost in the abundance and variety. Between the stores are many restaurants serving genuine Druze ethnic foods, and bakeries that fill the air with the sweet smell of baklava pastries.[2]

My brother-in-law's favorite thing to do up there is to buy knafeh. I'm not a big fan of sweets, but knafeh is a mix between salty and sweet.


Possibly my favorite food in Israel, knafeh, is a dessert made with white cheese, delicately stringed filo dough (kadaif), and sugar syrup. It's fascinating to see it made. Baked in enormous metal pans, the kadaif, mixed with clarified butter, is laid down first, then the cheese.[3]


One of the great joys of living in Israel is connecting with our Druze neighbors.

[1] https://www.touristisrael.com/druze-hospitality/967/ [2] Ibid. [3] https://www.travelbelles.com/israel-foods-traditional-you-must-taste/#Knafeh

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Shalom from Israel! I am Ron Cantor and this my blog. I am the GODTV Israel Regional Director host of the daily TV program, "Out of Zion". I also serve on the leadership team of a Hebrew-speaking, Spirit-filled congregation in Tel Aviv. We love Yeshua and we love Israel. Hope to see you here soon!

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