Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating. Clearly, Christmas is not a big deal in Israel, and even more so in Tel Aviv. I thought about going to Bethlehem or Nazareth this year, and I hope to one year. There would be some great Christmas food too, middle eastern style.

I wanted to share two food articles I've come across recently. The first article is on a petition to ban the govt. policy that all official foreign guests of the govt. can only be taken to kosher restaurants. I was not even aware of the policy before reading this, and whole heartedly agree that there's no need for such a law. Thanks to Elaine for sending the article.

The second article was on a reporter's quest to witness the butchering of a sheep in Yafo on the recent Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice. The holiday and the ritual slaughtering of the sheep commemorates Abraham/Ibrahim's decision not to sacrifice his son Isaac/Ishmail, but rather kill a lamb/ram after being directed to do so by God at the last moment. The article was very well written and goes into fairly graphic detail about the killing of the sheep by one family in Yafo.

Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year too!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to make Latkes with Adam Teeter

I want to wish everyone a Happy Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza and whatever other holidays are taking place at the moment. Hanukah is not, in my opinion, a great food holiday. At least not in comparison to other food oriented holidays. Thanksgiving is probably the best with its traditions of Turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, stuffing, leftover sandwiches the next day, etc. It's almost a full year away, but I'm ready for Thanksgiving already. Ramadan, ironically, is a great food holiday. While observant Muslims do fast (not the best way to enjoy food) during the daytime, each night there is a sumptuous feast. Even amongst the Jewish holidays, Hanukah doesn't do too well. Pesach Seder is an infinitely better meal than any Hanukah specific foods and meals.

Still, there are some unique food traits to Hanukah worth mentioning. Sufganiyot or jelly donuts are traditional to eat on Hanukah, and who doesn't love a jelly donut? However, I’m willing to guess though that most people identify latkes, or potato pancakes, as their primary Hanukah food treat. Who doesn’t like fried grated potatoes with applesauce on top? If you've ever wondered how to make latkes, well you're in luck this year. My friend Adam Teeter is now starring in his very own latke making instructional video. Learn how to make three kinds of latkes and enjoy the great soundtrack.


Sustainability Conference

(Carmei Avdat vineyards in the Negev region of Israel)

Last month the first ever Israeli Sustainable Food conference was held in Tel Aviv. It was sponsored by Hazon, the American Jewish food and biking folks, and The Heschel Center, a leading Israeli environmental organization. Unfortunately, I was not able to go, and I am disappointed I can't give a first hand account of the event. I'll be sure to make the next conference, and am thrilled that this issue is more in the forefront in Israel. Israel is an agricultural powerhouse in terms of its production and technological advances, but the environmental impact of this production is rarely discussed. Can food production for 10 million Israelis and Palestinians in a small, desert be sustainable at all? Does sufficient food production have to come at the expense of diminishing water resources and pollution through mass use of chemicals that enhance yields? I hope to explore these issues much more in depth in future posts. Stay tuned...


Coffee...Bauhaus Style

It has been a little bit since my last post, and I apologize for the tardiness of this entry. But to make it up to you I'm writing three posts today! Getting straight into the first one...

Tel Aviv is known for its hundreds of buildings built in the modernist architecture style known as Bauhaus. Brought to Tel Aviv in the 1920s and 30s by its European immigrants, the architectural style is one of the city's defining characteristics and much of the city is a UNESCO world heritage site because of these buildings. I had coffee the other day with a professor of mine from Emory at Sucar (sugar) because it was 1) close to where we both live and 2) apparently the last coffee shop (so he says) that truly adheres to the Bauhaus style. What does he mean by that?

The building the coffee shop is located in is of Bauhaus style, but so are many coffee shops in the city. The difference, my former professor explained, is the windows. The windows at Sucar are curved with the building, and apparently no other coffee shop has windows that truly conform and meld to the Bauhaus style of their building. As for the coffee shop itself..the coffee was strong and the variety of cookies we had were very good. There is probably better coffee and cookies at other coffee shops in the city, but if you want the true Bauhaus coffee shop experience you have to go to Sucar.

Cafe Sucar


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Trying to define Israeli cuisine

There's a new article in The Atlantic today that tries to tackle the issue of what defines Israeli cuisine. The article appears to be written by an American who spent a few months in a higher end restaurant in Tel Aviv. She writes well, brings up some good points, but nothing said is particularly new. In the end she shies away of trying to define what Israeli cuisine in, and while this may be the entirely correct thing to do, it feels like the easy way out for her. Read it, and decide for yourselves.