Um Nabil, the Queen of herbs.
Um Nabil comes from the magical village of Artas, the biblical "Hortus Conclusus". From that village where Solomon wrote the Song of Songs, describing the lush garden
"Your branches are a grove of pomegranates, with fruits of choicest yield", Um Nabil has been coming to the Bethlehem market for the last 38 years.
Already as young bride, seventeen years old, she came to the market to sell labaneh and dairy products from her husbands' farm. She delivered each morning to some houses in Bethlehem their favourite labaneh pots and came to sell the rest in the market.
Around twenty years ago, Um Nabil started bringing vegetables and herbs from her land and her neighbours land to sell in the Bethlehem Farmer's market.
The quality of the produce she brings and her chatting, sharing advise and recipes has made her one of the favourites of the market. Her stall is rich with parsley, mint, radishes, vine leaves, sage, turnips, warak lisan, lemons, khobeisa, huwerna, baqleh. A myriad of greens and colourful vegetables light up the entrance of the market under the wise gaze of the Queen of herbs.
When I stroll down from my house towards the restaurant, Um Nabil is often already there. I stop by for a chat, to smell a wonderful bunch of zaatar or taste a fantastic grape and up pops the next item on our daily changing menu.