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

Soft landing in Ayn Hawd

August 23, 2008

Prickly pear cactus in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon /
The tickly prickly pears of Ayn Hawd

Two days ago I arrived in Ayn Hawd, to start producing my farmer’s market installation for the One Land project and Platform Paradise exhibition. In 2004 the Palestinian village of Ayn Hawd received widespread recognition when architect Malkit Shoshan (NL/IL) initiated an international architecture competition to develop a forward-thinking masterplan for the village. An underlying notion behind the competition is the issue of Israeli zoning laws and planning practice used to express non-kosher political ideologies. From 1948 when the villagers were expelled from their ancestral location only a few kilometres away, to 2004 when Shoshan initiated the One Land (Two Systems) project, Ayn Hawd had been an illegal, non-existant village, situated in Israel, but subject to an entirely separate set of laws and lack of access to state infrastructure.

Exploding pomegranat in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon /
The exploding pomegranates of Ayn Hawd

Now Ayn Hawd is in a state of transformation, all the more so due to the effects of the exhibition and One Land project.

Yellow dates, harvested and drying in a bag in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon /
Yellow dates harvested in of Ayn Hawd

Collaborating with the villagers, my small part in this massive project is to develop a farmer’s market for Ayn Hawd, and I’ve been devoting the days to researching the village’s produce and taking stock of her food products. Olives, pomegranates, figs, kumquat, dates, grapes, prickly pears, passion fruit, peaches, lemons, limes, carob, plums, and pecans, but also herbs: thyme, hyssop, sages, rosemary, lavender, basil, chamomille, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and then there’s the honey, and the flowers, all the things one can make with all of the above ingredients. I’m certain I’ve ommitted more than half of the species, because I don’t recognise them, because I don’t know them, I can’t even see that they’re there.

The herb garden at Al Beet in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon /
Herb garden at restaurant Al Beet in Ayn Hawd

It’s extraordinarily beautiful, with outstanding food and folk. The best restaurant in Israel is run by the mayor’s wife, Safiya and the family, right under the place where we are staying. Al Beet (the house/at home) has an herb garden and fruited terraces with figs and walls of passion fruit. Whoever is doing the landscaping clearly has a basil addiction, but the chammomile is also well represented and of course the ubiquitous thyme and hyssop… it all gets turned into za’atar.

Pomegranate, grape, rose hips and kumquat in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon /
Pomegranate, grape, rose hips and kumquat in Ayn Hawd

One day in and they’re already overfeeding us, but that was to be expected.

Map Office's One Land garden installation by Laurent Gutierrez and Valerie Portefaix in Ayn Hawd, Debra Solomon /
Map Office’s One Land garden installation in Ayn Hawd

debra at 14:36 | | post to


  1. welcome to the land of milk and honey,
    I am sure there are some pine cone nuts to found on the ground somewhere

    Comment by liora — August 25, 2008 @ 8:17

  2. Are Map office there? Please say hello to them, for me.

    Comment by john thackara — August 31, 2008 @ 17:06

culiblog is a registered trademark of Debra Solomon since 1995. Bla bla bla, sue yer ass. The content in this weblog is the intellectual property of the author and is licensed under a Creative Commons Deed (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5).