Monday, December 22, 2014

are you hungry.....?

I keep talking about food, or at least I do in my writings, its not necessarily something I am doing every day so I thought that perhaps I should slip it in here - it gives you a break from the travelogue as well. I mentioned that the husband and I go to the film society at the synagogue, one of the reasons I go, is that there is a meal beforehand, and it is always delicious, in fact, I booked tickets for the next film in January and they didn't know if there was going to be a meal!!!! I was horrified, but thankfully they rang today to say that there would be Chicken Cacciatore so no need to mutiny. There is also a Brunch next month and I will talk about that when I have been, seats have been purchased and that is a joy to go to.

I am now through the first week of my trip and the food has been wonderful. I mentioned in an earlier post that I have a couple of wonderful cookbooks on Israeli food. To be honest, there really isn't such a thing as Israeli food as the food you find comes from Sephardic Jews, hot and spicy, and Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe brought there own cuisine, and also Arab food. It has taken quite a time for a cuisine to appear, a bit like British food, everyone used to laugh at "le Rosbifs", but now British cuisine can hold its head high and is amongst some of the best in the world, with a fusion of foods from all over the world. But, in the early days of Israel the food left a lot to be desired, in fact, I think there is a quote in Joan Nathan's book, The Foods of Israel Today from Henry Kissinger lamenting the fact that there were 2 million Jewish mothers living there, but the food was terrible. I can't find the exact quote, so apologies if it's wrong, but I know I've seen it.

As I said, it doesn't reflect the food of Israel today which I could eat for ever. The middle eastern diet suits me better and I loved it and I'm trying very hard to continue with it. There are certain things that I could eat until the cows come home, ( perhaps not the best analogy considering that I ate Kosher most of the time which I love, and was happy to keep meat and dairy separate, it makes a lot of sense from a dietary point of view.) I LOVE Hummus, Falafel and Shawarma, the breads, vegetables, so much made a difference, and I think I ate more vegetables there than I have in a long time.

I had Italian food one night and it was the best I've eaten outside Italy. But, let's go back to the beginning, just try and stay awake.

I told you I went Jaffa and Tel Aviv on the Sunday where Moshe was my guide and we had lunch in Sarona, I can't actually remember what I had, but know it was kosher and enjoyable.

 I am not sure if I worried my hosts, as I don't have a huge appetite as I have discussed before, so breakfast would go like this.
"What would you like?"
 "Could I have a slice of bread and butter and cheese please?"
"Is that it?"
"Yes, thank you"
"Really? Nothing else?"
"No, I'm good thanks"

Now I'm sure they must think I hated the food, but I LOVED it all, I just don't eat and I get very full very quickly. That breakfast kept me going until it was time to eat lunch which I don't normally eat. So, there I am in Jerusalem and we had Shawarma.

I know you've seen this photo before, but it's just too good not to repost, I can still smell it. it was chicken which was carved off the "leg" and then quickly fried on the hotplate, served with hummus and pita bread, the likes of which you have never tasted, and the Israeli salad which accompanies every meal pretty much. A very filling meal, I think I just had bread and cheese when I got home that night.

When Shoshi and I were in Carmel market, I told you that we had walked through the Yemenite quarter having walked through the market first. Again you have seen these images, but I love them, make my mouth water. This is Halva made from Sesame seed paste and the lower photo is Baklava, do not think that the stuff you buy here is any where near as good as this.

As we strolled through the Yemenite quarter, this was one of the restaurants that we saw, very homely and very busy later.

Having finished our shopping, Shoshi took it back to the car and when she came back asked me if I wanted to eat at one of the many cafes on Nahalat Binyamin, or would I prefer authentic? Guess what my answer was, which is how we ended up sitting outside this little hole in the wall restaurant (image below), eating authentic Yemeni food. I was always happy to let people order for me, so we had Ful. Yes the spelling is correct. This was hummus with a serving of warm beans and olive oil on top, pita bread, Israeli salad, olives and a couple of dips to go with it. OH MY GOODNESS. I thought I was in heaven. The best places to eat are these small family run restaurants, long may they continue. I seem to think I read somewhere, that pita bread has to be prepared from beginning to end in 18 minutes, but I can't remember where I picked up that useless fact.

Our server was in the grey t shirt 

As my journey continued, the food played a big part, and I decided it should be photographed for posterity. I mentioned that I had been back  Jerusalem and we had lunch in Ima's, a fabulous kosher restaurant, and it was here that I had meat and stuffed vine leaves, another favourite, no photo I'm afraid, I was trying not to be too touristy, it was slightly more sophisticated as a restaurant.

Another journey, which will be the resumption of my travels, took us to an Arab restaurant. This time I was heading north and going up to Haifa, but we had stopped on the way.

So, lets start at the front, hummus with tahini and olive oil drizzled on top and parsley, potato salad, pickled cabbage, beetroot, aubergine (egg plant), parsley with barley, radishes, tomatoes the list could go on. If you go to a restaurant,  you would generally find a variety of salads would come as part of the meal, I could have eaten them on their own, I had to remember to save room for the rest! This meal also had meat, and we had chicken livers, chicken hearts and lamb cutlets.

As I said, we were heading north to Haifa, and we had a wonderful meal that night too, but the next day saw us touring Haifa, going to the Wadi Nisnas and shopping in the market there. 

Tahini cookies in a bakery, which I can't get enough of

Zucchini (Courgettes) hollowed out ready for stuffing


We then headed up to Usifiya to a Druze restaurant. The Druze are Arabs, but the Druze religion is different to Islam, and again we will talk about that later. Before going in, we visited the bakery next door where we wandered into the back room (literally), and watched them preparing pita bread and saw other pastries.

Don't blink you might miss the pita bread falling off the conveyor belt......

Bureckas, cheese filled pastries. I have made these and they are not difficult

Now, I have to crave forgiveness, as I can't remember what these yummy jam donuts are called in Hebrew, but I know they are associated with Chanukah.

Our host, the owner of the bakery and the restaurant in typical Druze dress, I mean the chap in the middle standing between Yaffa and Ischai

Pickled cauliflower and carrots, cabbage, peppers and olives, always olives.

Okra in tomato sauce

Meat filled pastries which were delicious

Mangold, similar to spinach, but you have to know what you are picking

Cauliflower in a cream sauce.

I think you should be full by now, so I think I will keep the rest of it until later in the trip otherwise you will never keep up with me...........

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