The state of Israel is only 64 years old, but the history is ancient, and the food a bonafide melting pot of different cultures and cuisines. Janna Gur, author of The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey (a beautiful cookbook and a terrific resource for what is known as "new" Israeli food) sums it up this way in her forward:
A society of immigrants from more than 70 countries, Israel is constantly changing, and so is its cuisine. The food culture that has evolved is one of dynamic cross-fertilization between numerous influences. Arab and Jewish, Eastern Europe and North Africa, religious and secular, new immigrants and old-times, locals and foreigners. They all work together to create a synergy that is Israeli food today. Fusion is the essence and the journey goes on.
The biggest surprises (and delights) of my eating experiences: small salads with almost every meal piled high with fresh vegetables, grains, toasted nuts, and a variety of herbs, served alongside green olives and marinated fish; amazing breakfasts that included hearty breads served with a white, tangy yogurt cheese spread, butter, and preserves, bowls of smooth hummus topped with cucumbers and tomatoes, more vegetable salads and savory pastries, spicy tomato shakshuka, and a seemingly unending variety of yogurts and milks. Oh, and tahini. Did I mention tahini? It was the star ingredient at every meal, often served raw or with olive oil, a sprinkling of herbs, and warm pitas.
Burning sage! An end-of-the-meal ritual at one place we ate.
More Posts From My Food Tour: • How To Make Stuffed Grape Leaves with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce • A Food Tour of Israel: Machne Yehuda Outdoor Market in Jerusalem • The Making of Mutabak at Zalatimo, Jerusalem: An Old Family Recipe Survives • Preparing for Shabbat: A Visit to a Challah Bakery in Bnei Brak, Israel (Images: Cambria Bold)
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