"The sabbath year (shmita Hebrew: שמיטה, literally "release") also called the sabbatical year or sheviit (Hebrew: שביעית, literally "seventh") is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel, and still observed in contemporary Judaism." *
The peppers look incredible. The tomatoes look even better. Like candy. We suffered through a whole year where the fruits and vegetables were good but nowhere near the quality or intensity of the everyday produce in the shuk. Last year - Rosh Hashannah 2014 - 2015 was a shmita שמיטה year. Planting and harvesting certain crops is forbiddgen. Fruit that drops from trees can be harvested but not picked. The land has to rest.
For this reason the vegetables last year were good but less plentiful and more expensive because they were imported. And there was less variety. But hallelujah, shmita is over and we can once again enjoy the fruits of the land.
But wait - it took months for the eggplant to look this good. I learned recently from a friend in class that produce harvested after the shmita year cannot be consumed until after Hanukkah. Hence, the absolutely beautiful display last week at the Namal. Eggplant is the heart and sole of Israeli cooking.