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Ahmad Basal

The Palmira pastry shop

The smell of freshly made caramel, chocolate and sugared nuts greets you as you enter Palmira, a Syrian pastry shop located in carrer Ballesteries in the Old Quarter of Girona. This unique enterprise is run by two friends, Soumaya Waez and Ahmad Basal. The latter, a Syrian refugee, was forced to leave his family while fleeing the war and spent 45 days travelling through nine different countries until he finally arrived in Salt. There he found a friend, who he had first met in Greece and who promised to help him accomplish one of his dreams and open his own bakery.

Ahmad takes care of the practical side of things while Soumaya helps him run the business. The shop is one of a kind among pastry shops in Girona because it sells Syrian pastries, from Baraze to Knafe. Its other key differential element is that it sells all sorts of sweetbreads from the Middle East.

Coming from a long line of bakers, Ahmad grew up surrounded by all manner of ingredients used in pastry-making. Even so, his intention was always to study law, something he hasn’t yet had the opportunity to do due to various circumstances and then the outbreak of war.

Now that the bakery is successfully established in the area, having been in business for around a year, Ahmad feels he has at least been able to accomplish one of his dreams. Ever forward-looking, the young entrepreneur is now ready to expand the business by opening a new stablishment in Barcelona. But before he can do that he will have to get permission for his brother to come and join him from home.

1. Knafe: Typical Syrian pastries filled with pistachio.

2. Bag of pistachios: One of the main ingredients.

3. Palmira’s gift boxes: Such delicacies deserve to be wrapped in style.

4. “Stained glass”: Mixed nuts on pastry.

5. Copper trays: Bought in from Turkey.

6. Rolling pin: This one is special for rolling out the dough.

7. Colonial delicacies: Syrian desserts from the French colonial era.

8. Photograph of Palmyra: The photo shows the now-ruined temple of the city of Palmyra, the place the bakery takes its name from.

9. Baraze: Biscuits covered in sesame seeds.

10. King’s crowns: Special filled dessert delights with sugared pistachios on top.

11. Scale: Used to determine the weight and price of the boxes and pastries.

12. Uniform: A professional from head to toe.

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