There are two Israeli cities that truly warrant visiting for a culinary tour: Nazareth and Acre. In both you can still find echoes of the magnificent cuisine of what was once, long ago, known as Greater Syria – an area that included Syria, Lebanon and Palestine and was blessed with the ingredients typical of the region: lamb, olive oil, lemon, garlic, eggplant and other fresh vegetables along with an abundance of herbs. In the seaside city of Acre, fish and seafood are added to the mix, as well as the ancient traditions of a port city that in various periods served as a central crossroads for the transport of raw materials and products from east to west and vice-versa. The cuisine of Greater Syria, which many consider more interesting than the relatively meager cuisine of Jordan and Egypt, also absorbed something of the area’s cosmopolitan atmosphere, which enjoyed many periods of economic prosperity throughout its long history.
Another thing Nazareth and Acre share is that it is both uplifting and sad to walk their streets, because of how deserted they are. It’s hard to avoid thinking that these two beautiful cities, which have so much historic and religious significance, really ought to be thronged with tourists.
Tour guide Abdu Matta is Acre’s best ambassador. His real specialty is history and the encounter between cultures, particularly in the Western Galilee, but he also leads groups and individuals on fascinating culinary tours of Acre, his hometown.