Explore The Galilee

Explore the Galilee

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Lonely Planet Author Pick

Meet a Local: Abu Ashraf and the Qatayef

By Daniel Baylis October 2, 2011

As a traveler, I am conscious of my ‘outsider’ status. And when it comes time to choose a restaurant or café, I am selective. I look for hints that my presence will be well received – a smile from an employee, a menu in English, a recommendation from another traveler. I am not offended that a restaurant might not cater to foreigners – this is part of living in a free society. But I simply want, like every other human, to go where I feel welcomed.

Daniel Baylis visiting Nazareth

In my experience, Nazareth has been very welcoming. On my second afternoon I was simply wandering along the Jesus Trail without a specific target in mind, and I paused to extract a pocket map to verify my location. Across the street came the calling of a middle-aged woman, inquiring if I needed directions. Although I didn’t have a destination, I let her give me one because she wanted to be kind. This has been my understanding of the people of Nazareth.

As I continued my wanderings, I happened to stroll past the Diwan al-Saraya ‘pancake’ shop. On the patented Fauzi Azar “Old City Tour,” my guide Linda had suggested that we visit Abu, the man behind the crepes. I was inquisitive, but hesitant to intrude. But Abu saw me slowing down as I walked by, and could see the curiosity in my eyes, so he waved me over.

I was offered two types of folded pancakes. The first was stuffed with crushed walnuts and cinnamon, the second was filled with a mildly salty goat cheese (that he makes on site). Both were delicious, drizzled in a syrupy sugar sauce with orange blossom nectar, but the salty/sweet combination of the goat cheese option was probably the winner in my books.

Although the ‘qatayef’ (pancakes) were delicious, my favorite part of visiting Abu’s shop was not the food. It was the fact that Abu sat and talked with me. He told me about the history of his shop, the importance of nature to him and how me makes the cheese for his pancakes.

After I had finished eating and sipping my cardamom infused Arabic coffee, Abu toured me around the back of his store and proceeded to share videos of him on the Al Jazeera YouTube channel. He told me that people want to talk to him, but that he’s not seeking fame. He just wants to share his story and encourage peace.

And that sounds pretty darn welcoming to me.


Diwan al-Saraya Pancake Shop

Monday – Saturday, 8 AM to late afternoon


Old Souk,

Nazareth, Israel