Under the rainbow

A trip to Usfiya, a Druse village on Mount Carmel, is exciting for cultural and gastronomic reasons.

Druse hospitality 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Druse hospitality 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Galilee is at its best now, and a year after the fire disaster, Mount Carmel is slowly recovering and new green is showing between the charred tree trunks. Hanukka seems to be a good opportunity to pick up friends and family and go visit this most scenic of Israel regions.
El Carmel (In Hebrew, Amim vete’amim) is a project designed to expose visitors to the life of the Druse. The project, created 10 years ago in the village of Usfiya, allows visitors a glimpse into the life of this mysterious ethnic group – their houses, their food and their stories.
A local guide meets the visitors upon their arrival and takes them on a short and delightful walk through the old alleys of Usfiya, passing by a Druse secret prayer house, a deserted Byzantine church and the ancient olive press while explaining the culture and telling amusing stories.
The tour takes place in a scenic area. On the day we were there, it was pouring rain and a huge rainbow stretched from one end of the sky to the other. It was breathtaking. Standing in the enclosed porch of one of the houses, we could see the Mediterranean and Mount Hermon in one glimpse.
After the short and very interesting tour, guests are invited to one of a number of local homes, where the residents offer their famous hospitality. After meeting the kind hosts, sitting around the taboon oven sipping the special scented tea, guests are invited to the madpa – the Druse guest room, where the guide tells more stories about the life of the Druse, the hidden religion, rebirth of souls, the Druse women and the bond with the emerging Jewish state and the Druse commitment to Israel.
At the end of the lecture, trays loaded with delicious Druse dishes, all cooked by the hosts in special kosher kitchens, are served.
It’s an all-you-can-eat event, so food keeps coming until everyone has had enough.
For those who want to see more, there are other experiences offered, such as drums and folklore show, coffee readings and much more.
Tours are given in Hebrew, English and other languages. Food is kosher, certified by the Chief Rabbinate. Tours are offered for different size groups, starting at 10 persons.
For more information, call Avi at (04) 839-0125 or 052-453-5100. www.el-carmel.com