A Trip to Jarmaq

El Nabattiyeh is one of those out of the way cities, somehow overly populated while being in the middle of nowhere. The streets choke with dense, irregular traffic and those carelessly wandering on foot fill even the tiniest spaces between the cars. Have you heard of swarm behavior? A single bee or ant isn’t smart but their colonies are – I’m not sure how anyone survives on that road, but they seem to come out of the madness unscathed. Right in the city center is a butcher with half and quarter carcasses hanging out in the shop window. There’s beef and local lamb with large hunks of liyyeh, the beloved tail fat that is eaten raw or used for cooking and perserving. Over charcoal, very little food beats a properly handled skewer of pure tail fat: the surface turns golden and crisp and the inside melts in one’s mouth, savoury and even sweet. Luckily, like many butchers in the area, this shop also doubles up as a charcoal barbeque restaurant, so we enter hungry and eager. Here, eggplants for babaganouj are pounded with a mortar and pestle until smooth and get a touch of tahini, only enough to feel its presence. The kafta, minced lamb and parsley kebabs, are served with chili-flavoured bread – they’re super fresh and bloody awesome.

After a brief wait for the 12-year-old boy who works at the green grocer’s to remove his cart from behind our car, we resume our journey. We enter Jarmaq (ref here), a stunningly rugged bit of landscape both green and barren, and pass by its wheat fields. A farmer is busy with the harvest, aided by two young daughters. It takes some effort, but after he is convinced that I’m not a spy, he lets me take their photo.


  • That sounds like an educational and fun trip to me. The landscape photos are great too. Your creativity makes a barren field look beautiful in those pictures. And it’s amazing to know that there’s an escape from city life amidst the busy Jarmaq.

  • oooOoh these photographs are gorgeous—the first one, particularly, has so much life… one can just about hear the rustle underfoot and smell the sweet-dusty aroma of the crushed stalks rising in the heat of the day… Also love the dynamic composition—those onrushing clouds and the movement of the one man carrying his burden above his head, nice. Made me think of Millet’s gleaners, or some of Van Gogh’s wheat field paintings (Reaper with Crows, or Wheatfield with Reaper at Sunrise have some of the movement of your photo).

    Thank you for sharing! 😀

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