Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Saosan’s carob syrup

August 26, 2008

Saosan making carob syrup in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon,

A sloppy fig branch roadblock fuels fires burning purposefully under two steel pot stands, each supporting a blackened aluminium cauldron. You can feel the heat halfway down the street where unpredictable gusts of smoke inevitably find your eyes, turn your head for a breath of, oh the parfum of fig wood smoke. Please stay in my hair forever.

Saosan making carob syrup in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon,

Inside the cauldrons a boiling coffee-coloured liquid moves Saosan and Kamili to swoop in with ladels to test its consistency. If you can get close, the smell of burnt sugar wins out over fig wood. Some protective gear would help against the heat, the ladies are all about layers. Saosan approaches with a sticky plate and dimples that ask me to taste. Molasses, carob, sticky, good. Not entirely my cup of tea, but I no sooner think this than a cup of carob tea is pressed into my hand.

Saosan making carob syrup in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon,

Saosan making carob syrup in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon,

Kids flit in and out, attracted by the activity, fiddle with Saosan’s efficient fires. The little boys at least are eventually shooed away by her shouts, go to start their own much bigger fires, considerably larger than they are. It’s all in good fun, the flames are massive but die down quickly, like the attention spans of the boys that make them. The boys are burning cardboard which would infuriate our Maurizio, if only he knew. 4 days now he’s been trying desperately to commandeer all of Ayn Hawd’s used cardboard for Yona’s installation.

Saosan making carob syrup in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon,

Saosan and Kamili are making carob syrup or ‘rup’, from the carob they picked themselves, washed themselves, cut and soaked themselves. The entire house is involved, the entire street really, seeing as how it’s blocked off with big fig branches, hastily sawn, some not sawn just broken off. Spatially, temporily, apparently, this is the time of ‘rup’. Saosan is making a year’s worth, two days in, days and nights, really. One more day to go, and night.

Kamili prepares the carob for syrup in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon,

Saosan making carob syrup in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon,

Saosan making carob syrup in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon,

debra at 10:47 | | post to


  1. What a great story. And how was the carob tea - roasty? Was it thick, or tea-like? I’ve only had fresh dried carob pods once and they were so good to nibble on. We also used them with unsweetened coconut flakes and other herbs to make a great, delicious tea.

    Comment by elarael — September 10, 2008 @ 1:35

  2. The tea was tea-like. Maybe more broth-y. The carob tea was like a roasty, nutty, molasses tea. It had particles which I’m sure could have been strained out or settled down, but apparently this isn’t the style.

    That’s the funny thing, this tea is ‘what you drink’ when you make ‘rup’. It’s hot, you make it during the hottest time of year, and you need fortification during the process. The tea is the fortification. I didn’t ask, but I’d bet they only drink it at this time. It’s a sort of event by-product, or that’s how I’m interpreting it.

    Fresh carob to nibble on is something I remember liking as a child (growing up in warmer climes). I didn’t see one child in this village eating pure carob.

    They eat packaged sweets and cakes from China. Really chemical stuff. The kids drink coke. Even babies drink coke. More on that later.

    Comment by debra — September 10, 2008 @ 7:19

  3. It’s the same as carob molasses? I bought a jar of that stuff one time and still don’t know what to do with it.

    Comment by Bea — September 24, 2008 @ 4:13

  4. Hi,

    I love you site!!! I want to try and make carob syrup myself… Do you have the receipe? I would love to have it and try makeing it. I live in Bosnia and we have a lot of carob trees, but we can’t buy carb syrup in our country. I got a bottle of carob syrup from a friend from Cyprus…and I love it. I eat it with my cereals :) Thanks, JAsmina

    Comment by Jasmina — August 5, 2009 @ 15:41

  5. Had a bottle of carob syrup which I forgot about so is probably past use by date! Made a drink of it with one large spoonful of the syrup and some hot water. Its perhaps an acquired taste but very pleasant, like a mixture of figs and dates but a bit less sweet. Shall definately use it up over the next week or so as a night cap!

    Comment by Wendy — April 14, 2010 @ 23:44

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