During a work trip to Israel where I had to give a lecture in Jerusalem about the past and traditional kitchen styles, the contemporary and the future cuisine, I discovered for the first time the real Jewish cuisine.
I was already impressed by the history of this city but now at least as much as that of the culinary in this country.
Its walls, gates and holy places contain an intense history, esteemed throughout the world. But beyond its obvious beauty, Jerusalem shows a different face to discerning visitors. That of a young and surprising city, with unsuspected vitality.
One only has to see some neighborhood cafes, trendy bar and restaurants after dark to realize that, despite its millennial history, Jerusalem sparkles with a youthful mood. Whether it's to enjoy a good meal with friends or taste new cocktails, Jerusalem has no shortage of great addresses.
I was for example completely blown away by the atmosphere at the Mahane Yehuda, the emblematic market of the new city.
The holy city does not hide its appetite for spiritual food, as well as earthly. The cuisine is available here with assumed happiness.
It's hard to resist a smooth hummus, where chickpeas and tahina (creamy sesame paste) combine with the acidity of lemon and the freshness of parsley. And then the falafel, sabich (pita with roasted eggplant), beurek (phylo dough topped with vegetables or cheese) or knafeh (fresh goat cheese, angel hair and rose syrup). I can understand that the reputation of street food is worldwide known by its quality and ingenuity.
But in Jerusalem as elsewhere, gastronomy is constantly evolving, shaken up by foreign influences and the audacity of the chefs. Trendy young people then revel in elaborate tapas on the rooftop of a hotel, sip a detox juice in a Swedish-style café and enjoy refined cocktails at small eateries on the corner of the street.
Culinary festivals are organized as well: tastings, cooking classes with renowned chefs, festive tables, culinary innovations, conferences and artistic performances make these events a true gastronomic celebration.
Jerusalem - A Cookbook
If you like Jewish food and want to know more about it, then you should definitely buy Yotam Ottolenghi's book.
The book was produced by him and Sami Tamimi. Both were born in Jerusalem and raised in this city but emigrated a long time ago. With their book “Jerusalem”, they pay homage to their hometown. Sami Tamimi is a Muslim from East Jerusalem and Yotam Ottolenghi is a Jew from West Jerusalem. Their cooperation and the recipes published in the book are particularly representative of the cultural and culinary melting pot that is Jerusalem. The book presents an extremely varied Mediterranean cuisine with Arab and East European influences and it offers an abundance of vegetarian dishes, each more appetizing than the next.